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Is Europe Failing Its "Humanist Inheritance"? - Critical Normative Humanism and EU Immigration Law (Nicole Nickerson)

Why are human rights violations so widespread within the European Union's system of immigration and asylum law? Why has human rights discourse not sufficed to protect such basic standards? This article proposes a deeper theoretical problem at the root of these questions, by critically discussing the "humanist inheritance" and human rights values declared in the preamble to the Treaty on European Union. The history of ideas behind the princple of human dignity offers valid arguments for the universal equality of human beings, but critical reflection of its exclusionary blind spots is often lacking within legal discourse. This article argues that the EU's immigration system reveals both a foundational problem, namely that the liberal humanist approach does not reach far enough to combat systemic, socio-historic injustices. The humanist inheritance of Europe should be interpreted according to a theory of critical normative humanism, lest its aspirations towards respect for human dignity and equality appear hollow.