Globalization has eroded borders, fostered mobility, and deepened inequality virtually everywhere. The waning of the state as the world’s default political unit has had myriad consequences; among the most challenging may be the simultaneous expansion of supranational norms of human rights and contraction of legal, enforceable citizenship. The upheavals of the Arab Spring provided eloquent testimony to both the appeal of rights-based political discourse, as protesters across the region called for “bread, freedom, and social justice,” and the catastrophic consequences of reliance on weakened and ineffectual states to enforce such rights. The baleful landscape of the Middle East today suggests a warning for the rest of the world: enfeebled states may herald the demise of universal human rights.

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