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The International Court of Justice and regional bodies are meant to provide necessary legal frameworks and mechanisms. Justice is often understood as a multidimensional concept encompassing redistribution, recognition, and representation. Within the realm of redistribution, for example, the concept is often invoked in the context of both economic need, and demands for the equitable sharing of resources. Unfair or inefficient distribution and injustice in such a context are often seen as being rooted in the political economy - and frequently associated with class inequality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), drafted in 1948, provides a fundamental global governance framework to both voice and address demands related to maldistribution, misrecognition, and misrepresentation. Leading multilateral institutions such as the International Court of Justice, and regional bodies such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union, provide the legal frameworks, space, and mechanisms to address justice demands. Historically, these demands have been enacted through both global governance institutions (such as the UDHR) and social activism campaigns. The combined use of both social activism and institutional frameworks, to voice social justice claims and force related government action, is known as the “boomerang effect.” This occurs when domestic activists enlist international actors and organizations to pressure their own governments to adhere to - and uphold - international protocols and treaty obligations. Such tactics have succeeded in fighting apartheid in South Africa, upholding women’s rights in Latin America, and voicing environmental concerns in Europe and Asia. However, there have also been challenges; some governments have simply banned international NGOs, precluding local activists from gaining international visibility. On other occasions, international NGO campaigns have not always represented or addressed the concerns of domestic constituents. In addition to ongoing demands for recognition, redistribution, and representation, there are two other pressing global challenges in the realm of justice. The first stems from the disproportionate impacts of climate change not only on vulnerable communities, but also on non-humans and on future generations. The second stems from rapid technological advancement, the increasing use of data, and the ways in which artificial intelligence can shape discourse and the redress of grievances. These twin challenges have exposed the limitations of existing international legal frameworks, and point to an urgent need to develop necessary mechanisms for oversight and more avenues for expression and redress.

Demands for Justice

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Demands for Justice