Human rights

Values, rights and duties in the development of human rights

Abstract: 
In the light of the recent United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, the author returns to the dialectic between rights and duties in the theory and practice of human rights with the appearance of ‘horizontal’ obligations towards others, such as humankind and the planet. New attempts are being made to set human rights against ‘traditional values’, as in Russia, or in France, to have a ‘republican morality’ or even a ‘secular morality’ prevail over individual autonomy. It is more necessary than ever to articulate fundamental rights with collective values.

Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo). Preliminary Objections: The Unfinished Story of Diplomatic Protection

Abstract: 
The judgment of the International Court of Justice on preliminary exceptions in the Diallo case shows that the venerable institution of diplomatic protection (and by ricochet the Court that implements it), while conserving its original shape and outline, has incontrovertibly evolved to reflect the structural changes affecting international society. The paper first analyses change within continuity. It also shows that this change is however limited: in the field of protection foreign investment, the Court is reiterating the solutions it came up with in 1970 in Barcelona Traction, thus ensuring continuity without change.

The Sociological Argument in Human Rights Doctrine

Abstract: 
Human rights have long been thought of as ‘natural and sacred rights’ from a universalist ‘everywhere and always’ perspective. But relativism arose right from the time of the French Revolution with Burke and Joseph de Maistre contesting this vision of ‘man’ as abstract as opposed to situated. More recently, the sociological approach with the Marxist perspective has set formal rights against real freedoms. Contemporary law has taken all these challenges into account and developed the international corpus of human rights by emphasising effective rights for everyone – ‘without distinction of race, sex, language or religion’ as underscored in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter – rights that are accessible and adaptable to the specific needs of vulnerable groups, including through ‘positive discrimination’. Far from undermining the legal idealism and universality of human rights, the sociological argument enhances it with a permanent dialectic of law and fact.

The Human Right to the Truth in International Law: On Some ‘Untimely Meditations’

Abstract: 
In the second part of his Untimely Meditations, Nietzsche asserts that the motto of History raised to the status of a science in the nineteenth century is fiat veritas, pereat vita. Nietzsche draws a line between the right uses of History that serve life, and the wrong uses that jeopardise life. This text seems to capture or encompass if not all at least many of the criticisms now levelled at the right to the truth. Starting from this critical discourse, the paper tries to answer the following question: might not this ambition to establish the truth and to make truth a ‘human right’ – that is, a universal right deemed to be inherent in human nature – lead to blockages and dead-ends, or even completely jam the social machinery so preventing its renewal and reproduction, in other words preventing it from living?To try answering this question, the paper presents the right to the truth in context in the legal texts as an emerging human right in international law before trying to describe the main challenges that the right to the truth must take up. In conclusion, the paper looks at the role that international supervisory bodies must play in securing the right to the truth nationally.

The International Bill of Human Rights, coherence and complementarity?

Abstract: 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights derives its political inspiration and its legal standing from the United Nations Charter. It gave hard substance to the general commitment to cooperate to bring about “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion” pursuant to article 55 (c) of the UN Charter. For want of time, the participants at the San Francisco Conference had been unable to draw up a list of human rights and so confined themselves to the incantatory references to human rights that form a sort of leitmotiv of the Charter in answer to the hopes and expectations of NGOs, especially US associations and trade unions.However, in his closing speech to the San Francisco Conference, President Truman voiced the wish that the UN would adopt ‘an international bill of rights acceptable to all the nations involved’. Actually, this mission was to be the first mandate given to the new Commission for the Promotion of Human Rights, the creation of which was expressly provided for by UN Charter article 68. ECOSOC resolution E/RES/1946/9 (II) of 4 June 1946 setting up the Commission on Human Rights asked it to draw up an “international bill of rights” (para. 7) on the basis of the early work of the “nuclear commission” which had been tasked with preparing the ground.