This special issue of Oslo Law Review is based on the international conference ‘Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in Theory and Practice’ held in Oslo on 5-6 December 2014 at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. The conference was arranged as a cooperative endeavour of, on the one hand, the Human Rights and Diversity Thematic Working Group at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights (with Maria Lundberg and Aled Dilwyn Fisher taking lead roles) and, on the other hand, the research group Rights, Individuals, Culture and Society at the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Law (with Anne Hellum in the lead role).

The aim of the conference was to address the social reality of legal pluralities, in order to better our understanding of how, and the degree to which, human rights are realised. Legal pluralism, a controversial topic in law and the social sciences, cuts to the core of debates surrounding human rights, equality and diversity. The study of human rights and legal pluralities uncovers contradictions between and within different normative orders and different levels of law. It exposes tensions between the global, universalist aspirations of human rights and their specific, local realisation.

In this special issue, four researchers have contributed with articles that seek to identify, describe and analyse practical issues regarding the interpretation and realisation of human rights, in light of legal pluralism.