How has International Law addressed matters of human rights?How has International Law addressed matters of human rights?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Commissioned by the UN Secretary-General in 2002, international law has attempted to address matters of human rights through the Millennium Summit in September 2000, which was the largest ever gathering of world leaders. These leaders met to give voice to their belief in and support of human rights with the promise of applying their countries and their governments to the advancement of eight carefully defined human rights Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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One of the ways in which international law has addressed matters of human rights is by exposing the abuse of many governments and their practices towards specific people. We would have never known what was going on in the former Yugoslavia if International Law had not exposed the horrid racial cleansing taking place in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Same thing goes with Somalia. When the US invaded Mogadishu it was as a result of International Law not being enforced enough, or as a result of it being blatantly ignored by the Somali government.

In conclusion, International Law allows us to raise questions about what is going on in those places where the people cannot raise their voice and say the secrets that lurk underneath it all.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would agree with #5 in pointing you towards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also I would point towards the gap between rhetoric and reality. Whilst such documents are very stringent and enforce human rights, it must be recognised that such legislation is nearly impossible to actually enforce and back up. We need only look at the variety of human rights abuses that go on in nations such as China and the way that they are ignored by leaders of the USA and other nations to see that pragmatism and diplomacy triumphs over supporting human rights.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, as recognized and passed by the United Nations.  You can find it on the UN's website.  This is a very clearly worded, pro-human rights set of resolutions that were largely in response to the horrible abuses and genocides carried out during World War II.  They are quite complete, and recognize the essence of humanity and human rights.  So the international community has, for several decades, recognized human rights, and there are numerous very good laws on the books.  They simply remain almost impossible to enforce.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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International law has developed preferential human rights to focus on. These include basic rights like ending slavery and genocide. The laws are enforced by coalitions of countries that support the laws, since the international community has no real way to enforce them.
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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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International law has addressed matters of human rights by asserting certain rights and trying to set up mechanisms by which to enforce those rights.  Treaties have been set up, for example, asserting various rights for prisoners of war.  These rights are supposed to be protected by the prospect of prosecution for those who infringe on them.

As the previous post says, this regime does not always work in any very effective way.  However, this is the manner in which international law has attempted to address issues of human rights.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I had to pare this question down from its original.  I think that international law has advanced the cause of human rights in a very strong and consistent manner.  International law initiatives like the Geneva Convention are designed to enhance the cause of human rights to as many included groups as possible.  I think that this speaks to the level in which international law believes in the concept of human rights around the world.  International Law has seen the Hague as the sight of some of significant human rights prosecution, such as issues involving the former Yugoslavia and issues involving political assassinations in Lebanon.  I think that international law struggles with the enforcement element of human rights issues.  I think that the idea of being able to use the power of international law to stop human rights violations in different parts of the world is where the concept of international law is lacking.  I believe that being able to enforce the concept of human rights via international law is a gap that is difficult for any sort of enforcement.  Yet, this does not take away from the idea that human rights is an issue that international law does address and seek to continue to find room for improvement.

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