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International Human Rights in The Posthuman Era
We live in an era during which there is more contention than ever before over the future of human rights. The rapid pace of technological change, its extensive use impact on the human environment, now also shape the debates on what it means to be human. How, for example, should the basic elements that make people human be discussed in the posthuman period? Should the discussion of the legal status of non-human entities (such as robots or AI) within the framework of rights lead to a reshaping of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? These questions are important for discussing the future of human rights law in the posthuman era, and whether, at this point, the UDHR is an adequate guide to respond to these developments. The UDHR can, perhap,s be reinterpreted. Specifically, article 27 should be re-evaluated in terms of the posthuman age. Indeed, the first paragraph of this article states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. The second paragraph of this article states that “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”. The expected change in human rights law can be considered as an extraordinary transformation. However, the realities of life changed by technology will also have some consequences in terms of international human rights law. In this sense, the European Union Parliament's recommendation to the European Union Commission to give personality to artificial intelligence products is an example of this situation. Further, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in one of its judgment, noted that: “as an autonomous right, the right to a healthy environment […] protects nature and the environment, not only because of the benefits they provide to humanity or the effects that their degradation may have on other human rights, such as health, life or personal integrity, but because of their importance to the other living organisms with which we share the planet that also merit protection in their own right.” In line with these developments, it will not be enough to criticize existing human rights documents. These existing documents have to accept the existence of new actors in a new system. This system points to the reality of the posthuman era. Therefore, it is an important question whether existing human rights documents can meet the needs of the posthuman era. For example, the UDHR is not concerned with defining the concept of human. Instead, the UDHR proposes some universal standards for the improvement of humanity. However, the inability of the existing human rights regime to respond to new trends in the posthuman era (such as transhumanism) is highly problematic and potentially contentious. The fact that the demands of the posthuman age (the digital afterlife of the deceased, for example) cannot be met in the existing human rights documents constitutes the main source of this situation. This presentation hence will explore the tension between the posthuman, the postdigital and the transhuman eras and existing human rights regimes. In this sense, the relationship of human with other beings (artificial beings) and non-human animals, rather than the relationship of human with the human race, is an important topic for research in our postdigital, posthuman era.