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The evolution of human rights enforcement

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  1. Introduction
  2. The development of Human Rights enforcement: From Dumbarton Oaks to Human rights Council
  3. Evolution of the most controversial rights: 1944 to 2006
  4. Responsibility for Human Rights breaches
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

The end of the second world conflict has set the beginning of the institutionalization of Human Rights at a world scale: the previous events have indeed made most of the country think about a way to reach a world consensus about basic rights that each single human being could expect to be given at its birth. Thus, even before the end of the war, the Allies' proposals of Dumbarton Oaks in 1944 mentioned Human Rights once as being a common goal to be reached. The creation of the United Nations and the texts following it have been the beginning of what can be called the development of Human Rights law: year after year the world context and its ideologies have evolved, bringing new ideas to be added or changed, making this international law more and more efficient and recognized.

This dissertation aims at explaining these developments, showing how diverse they have been.

[...] Indeed, it did away with two major obstructions of Human Rights which prevented international enforcement in the past. First, it dealt with the problem of states' sovereignty in the implementation of Human Rights: the most effective way for this process is the incorporation of the Declarations in national laws, which some states find difficult to accept, as it affects their full legislative sovereignty. The same problem arises with the International Court of Justice, which is the judicial body with the power to enforce International Law upon states. [...]

[...] Through the evolution of Human Rights, the war crimes trials, the Geneva Convention on humanitarian law, and some international human rights treaties, notably the Genocide Convention, established individual international criminal responsibility for some of the most egregious violations of Human Rights, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes[30]. The main reasons for this shift are that in recent years governments have been found sometimes unable to protect those rights within their jurisdiction. Indeed, some powerful groups (including terrorists, criminal organizations and the military establishment) are able to engage in large- scale violations of Human Rights while enjoying immunity from prosecution for what in theory are at least criminal acts under the law of the state in which they are perpetrated. [...]

[...] Thus, today the international community is moving in the direction of punishing Human Rights breaches, with increasing effectiveness in seeking to bring to justice those responsible for these breaches: in 50 years, the evolution of Human Rights law has led to the development of an increasingly effective enforcement by seeking to attribute to individuals a proportionate responsibility when they are given more and more effective rights. Indicative bibliography Nagendra Singh (1986) Enforcement of Human Rights in peace & war and the future of Humanity, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. [...]

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