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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 August 2020

The Idea of International Human Rights Law

The Idea of International Human Rights Law

(p.189) 7 The Idea of International Human Rights Law
The Idea of International Human Rights Law

Steven Wheatley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 summarizes and clarifies the argument in the book, explaining the distinctive nature of International Human Rights Law. It reminds us that states invented human rights in 1945 with the inauguration of the United Nations Charter. They explained the meaning of the term ‘human rights’ three years later with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although the concept evolved in a radically different direction than originally expected as states responded to events in apartheid southern Africa. The central insight of this final chapter is that the moral concept of human rights, which emerges from the legal practice, then influences the legal practice. We see this with the introduction, without debate, of the system of Universal Periodic Review, in the pro homine approach to the interpretation of human rights treaties, and in the modern methodology for customary international law formation, which looks first to the communication acts of the United Nations General Assembly. The book concludes by showing how the influence of the idea of human rights on the legal practices can explain the fragmentation of international law and, relatedly, the special nature of International Human Rights Law.

Keywords:   debate on human rights, human rights practice, the existence of moral human rights, the nature of international human rights law, fragmentation, special nature international human rights law

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