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Russian Flag: Photo: “Flag In The Wild Russian Federation (164796773)“, by Santiago Quintero licensed under CC BY 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Kristina Stoeckl, Traditional values, family, homeschooling: The role of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in transnational moral conservative networks and their efforts at reshaping human rights, International Journal of Constitutional Law, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 224–242


In the last two decades, Russian state actors and the Russian Orthodox Church have come to play an increasingly important role in the undermining of established understandings of international human rights law by reinterpreting its aims and repurposing its institutions, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the European Court of Human Rights. Russian state and church leaders have appropriated and coopted the language of human rights in order to advance an illiberal and nationalist agenda that undercuts democratic values and targets particular groups and their rights and freedoms—most notably liberal civil society, political opposition, and the LGBTIQ+ community. Written from the angle of a constructivist sociology of human rights, this article brings together three case studies of Russian rights appropriation around the topics of traditional values, family, and homeschooling and draws six lessons on the (mis)appropriation of human rights for illiberal purposes. The analysis of Russia’s rights appropriation sheds light on the background and build-up for current events in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.