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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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The Core UN Human Rights Treaty Systems

The Core UN Human Rights Treaty Systems

(p.95) 4 The Core UN Human Rights Treaty Systems
The Idea of International Human Rights Law

Steven Wheatley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 examines the core United Nations human rights treaties. It shows how we can think of these as complex systems, the result of the interactions of the states parties and the treaty bodies. The work first explains the regime on opposability and denunciation, which establishes the binding nature of the conventions, before considering the law on reservations, noting how this differs from the scheme under general international law. The chapter then turns to the interpretation of convention rights, detailing the distinctive pro homine (‘in favour of the individual’) approach applied to human rights treaties. The law on interpretation also requires that we examine the subsequent practice of states parties, as well as the pronouncements of the treaty bodies. The doctrine of evolutionary interpretation explains how the ‘ordinary meaning’ of treaty terms can evolve with developments in technical and scientific knowledge, changes in societal understandings, and wider modifications in regulatory approaches outside of the human rights treaty system.

Keywords:   opposability, reservations, interpretation, the pro homine approach, Golder v. United Kingdom, change over time, the role of treaty bodies, evolutionary interpretation, interpretive community

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