Human Rights Law

Rory O’Connell

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:
Human Rights Law


Human rights law is that branch of international law that covers the rights persons have against the state. This highlights perhaps the most striking feature of human rights law—that, unlike classic international law, human rights law recognizes human beings as having rights that can be invoked even against their own states. Thus, this is a challenge to the principle of state sovereignty. This bibliography focuses on the ever-expanding literature dealing with the development of the normative standards of international human rights law, the procedures to promote and protect these standards, and the challenges to them. This bibliography focuses on international human rights law. Many countries will have analogous domestic legal rules, and it is outside the scope of this article to provide an introduction to those sources. It will be necessary, however, to refer to national developments from time to time, particularly where these have influenced the development of international human rights law or where these national measures represent influential examples of the domestic implementation of international standards. Myriad controversies bedevil international human rights law. First, debates are ongoing about the nature, identity, and interpretation of the rights people have, as well as the basis for recognizing these rights. Second, while we start with the rights of persons, other entities might also be the subject of a right: families, associations, minorities, peoples, legal persons (corporations), or animals. Some individuals may worry about the proliferation or even “inflation” of human rights claims. Third, increasingly there are debates about who has the duty to respect human rights. While human rights law may serve to control the actions of the state, many other actors pose a threat to the protection of human rights: family members, the media, corporations, nonstate armed groups, and so forth. Whether human rights law provides the resources to deal with such potential violators is a matter of controversy. Finally, debates are waged over the response of human rights law and institutions to rapidly changing contexts, such as economic globalization, environmental challenges, the emergence of new technologies, and the war on terrorism.

Article.  17363 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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