The 55th volume of Scandinavian Studies in Law (Sc.St.L.) focuses on human rights and the dynamics surrounding them. In 15 articles experts on Jurisprudence, International Law and Legal History discuss the moderation and proliferation of the concept. The contributions have been divided into three sections: General Reflections, Limitations of Human Rights, and Emerging New Human Rights.
The ambition is to give an overview of the current situation, especially as it has manifested itself in the Scandinavian countries. More precisely the volume originates from a seminar on freedom of expression and its limits, held at the Stockholm University Law Faculty in February 2008. The freedom of expression seminar had in turn been instigated by several events which at that time attracted much attention in the media and public debate. One such event was the publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005. Parallel with discussions on the possible limits to certain freedoms, an urge for the recognition of new rights has emerged strongly in various international forums. The right to drinking water is an example of the latter. Some of these new rights have already received a degree of recognition, whilst others still need further elaboration. The articles in this volume address both the limitations to already established rights and the proliferation of new rights. An overall impression of the conclusions of the studies is that both the proliferation and the limitation of individual rights and freedoms have positive and negative aspects. The increase in the number of rights can hardly jeopardize individual freedoms, but it can lead to the “inflation” of rights and the subsequent watering-down of the implementation of existing rights. Limitation to rights and freedoms may for different reasons be justified under certain circumstances. There is, however, a risk of serious violation of the rights if limitation is destined to lead to the imposition of an authoritarian political system.