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The Idea of International Human Rights Law$
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Steven Wheatley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198749844.001.0001

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What We Mean When We Talk about ‘Human Rights’

What We Mean When We Talk about ‘Human Rights’

(p.17) 1 What We Mean When We Talk about ‘Human Rights’
The Idea of International Human Rights Law

Steven Wheatley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 examines the different ways the idea of ‘human rights’ is understood in the philosophical literature: as a modern idiom for natural rights, establishing a moral code for the treatment of human beings; as defining the proper relationship between the state and the individual; as explaining the circumstances when secondary agents of justice can intervene in the internal affairs of a state; and as a discrete area of international law practice. Noting the lack of agreement on the meaning of the term ‘human rights’, the analysis here looks to develop a practice-based account, explaining the idea of human rights by reference to the practice, which, in turn, creates its own vision of the value of the human person in political societies.

Keywords:   history, moral human rights, natural rights, natural law, John Locke, interventionist accounts, practice-based methodology

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