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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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United Nations Human Rights Law

United Nations Human Rights Law

(p.65) 3 United Nations Human Rights Law
The Idea of International Human Rights Law

Steven Wheatley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 tells the story of human rights in the United Nations. The work shows how we can understand the UN as a complex system of regulatory authority, which evolves with changes in the behaviours of the Member States and United Nations bodies as they respond to new information. The analysis demonstrates that, up until the 1960s, human rights provided a set of moral guidelines only, informing states how they should treat those subject to their jurisdiction and control. That was until the newly independent African countries joined the Organization and turned their attention to the problem of systematic racial discrimination in southern Africa, especially after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, when UN action against South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia) transformed the non-binding moral code contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a body of international human rights law, with the development explained by the importance of subsequent agreements and practices in the evolution of the regulatory authority of the United Nations.

Keywords:   United Nations, Franklin D. Roosevelt, UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, apartheid South Africa, Sharpeville Massacre, gross and systematic violations, Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, All Human Rights for All

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