Katja Stoppenbrink (München): Human Right to Community? Law and the Paradigm of the Inclusion of People with Disabilities


Can there be a 'human right to community'? Is such a right conceptually conceivable and practically realisable? Individual rights to 'community' under the auspices of the anti-discrimination movement (e.g.: right to admission of a girl to a boys' choir, of a person with a functional disability to a sports club, etc.) have so far been rejected in the German legal system with recourse to social norms and customs, partly also with reference to functional aspects. The character and nature of the boys' choir imply as a necessary condition that its members are male singers within a certain age range. The outlook is different on the basis of international legal – and, arguably, universal moral – human rights for inclusion in other areas of life, such as education, the world of work in the form of the first labour market, and political participation. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) establishes what we may term a human right to community living. The Convention requires state parties to 'recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community' , aiming at 'full inclusion and participation in the community' of persons with disabilities. Formerly common treatment of persons with disabilities (dissimulation and secrecy up to bashful hiding of affected persons in the family circle, institutionalization, etc.) is challenged by the current human rights discourse and nascent practice. However, international human rights of persons with disabilities are partly perceived as disruptive, irritating and possibly destructive of existing communities. They are even fought against or at best ignored. The – morally backed – global human rights concern is threatened with counteracting effects when enforced in practice. Eventually, this may even result in damage to the moral foundations on which the human rights impetus rests. My starting thesis is that in practice the fault lines have their origin in unrecognized, unresolved reservations vis-à-vis the normative presuppositions and implications of the moral and legal foundations of a 'human right to community'. The tension that arises between universally conceived and individualistically understood human rights and particular communities that exhibit their idiosyncratic properties and intentionally cultivate them is inherent in the community-oriented human rights that can be conceptualized as 'human rights to inclusion'. While some scholars therefore reject such a 'right to inclusion' on grounds of an ought implies can-argument I take a different stance and argue that both conceptually and practically, there are ways to make sense of an individual right to social inclusion.

(Katja Stoppenbrink)

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Please contact: kspranz@uni-bonn.de

Curriculum Vitae

Katja Stoppenbrink, LL.M. (Köln/Paris 1), M.A., Maître en Droit, is Professor of Ethics at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. She also holds the position of Principal Investigator in the interdisciplinary research project on Potentials of Blockchain Technology as an Instrument of Digital Consumer Participation at the University of Münster in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice. Professor Stoppenbrink’s areas of specialization include Philosophy of Law, Philosophical Action Theory, Political and Social Philosophy, Ethics and Applied Ethics.