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Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in International Law$
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Jan Arno Hessbruegge

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190655020

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190655020.001.0001

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A Human Right to Self-Defense?

A Human Right to Self-Defense?

(p.75) 3 A Human Right to Self-Defense?
Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in International Law

Jan Arno Hessbruegge

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that the right to personal self-defense in international law is not a human right, but an individual right sui generis, since it distinguishes itself from human rights in its social and political functions. The right to self-defense is a genuinely pre-societal right that evolved in the absence of the state. It survived the formation of the state because no state will ever have enough power to perfectly protect individuals. Conversely, human rights evolved in response to the overbearing presence of the state and serve primarily to ensure that states do not accumulate too much power. State practice also does not regard the right to personal self-defense as a human right. Nevertheless, the right still affects international human rights law on several levels.

Keywords:   human rights, right to self-defense, human rights philosophy, comparative constitutional law, international law

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