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The importance of the human right to work is recognized by its inclusion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this video, NICOLAS BUENO proposes that we reflect on its necessity and reimagine it as something more ambitious, as a new human right to freedom from work. Analyzing the historical context in which labor and fundamental economic rights emerged, Bueno observes that they were conceived to protect not the human being but, rather, the worker as an agent of economic production. Proposing a model which he calls “the human economy” aiming at reducing the need to rely on work, Bueno asks us to reflect upon what we actually create but also destroy through traditional work and how this impacts our need to work. He presents technological developments as both the cause of technological unemployment and source of work emancipation and challenges us to consider the ends of work rather than work as an end in itself.


Dr. Nicolas Bueno is a Senior Researcher and Lecturer at the Center for Human Rights Studies at the University of Zurich. He has previously held research posts at Columbia Law School and at the London School of Economics. His research focuses on International Human Rights Law, International Labor Law and the relationship between Business and Human Rights. He has provided advisory expertise to the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. A former recipient of a US Fulbright Scholarship, Bueno currently holds an Ambizione Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Federation (SNSF).


Centre for Human Rights Studies (University of Zurich)

The Centre for Human Rights Studies  of the University of Zurich (UZHR) is an interdisciplinary scientific network with the goal of promoting and coordinating research, teaching and knowledge transfer in the area of human rights. Through the institutional concentration of the competencies of the participating experts from different disciplines, the UZHR contributes to making human rights knowledge available and promoting its development. The UZHR also cooperates with the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR), within which it is responsible for the subject area of business and human rights.
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Original publication

From the Right to Work to Freedom from Work: Introduction to the Human Economy

Bueno Nicolas
International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Published in 2017