Memory and human rights

Authored by: Daniel Levy , Natan Sznaider

Handbook of Human Rights

Print publication date:  September  2011
Online publication date:  February  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415480239
eBook ISBN: 9780203887035
Adobe ISBN: 9781134019083

10.4324/9780203887035.ch43

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Abstract

Human rights discourse has become an omnipresent feature of international politics. Images of human rights abuses and the attendant political rhetoric seeking to assuage mass atrocities suffuse the global media. However, many obstacles remain toward the fulfillment of human rights ideals – first and foremost, the legally sanctioned and normatively embedded sovereignty of nation states. Yet human rights declarations, formulated as a set of rules, regulations, and norms, do constitute a challenge to one of the central tenets of sovereignty, namely the principle of non-interference in so-called internal affairs. When it comes to certain types of abuses, human rights are about humans and not about members of specific states. The end of the Cold War in 1989 and the emergence of global interdependencies have highlighted the tensions between the imperatives of a Human Rights Regime, the unbounded universal “we” and the prerogatives of sovereignty, the political community, the bounded “we.” The notion of a “human rights regime” refers to a system that is “defined as principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area” (Krasner 1982, p. 185).

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