Publications Archive :

Search By Category :
Search By Topic :
Search By Author :

12/01/2009 05:00:00

Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, Beth Simmons
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Conference

Nearly two decades ago, Professor Louis Henkin begin his magisterial The Age
of Rights with a ringing claim of universality: “Ours is the Age of Rights.
Human Rights is the idea of our time, the only moral-political idea to have
received universal acceptance.” Henkin’s historical observations, and the
conventional wisdom that they embody about the spread of rights, raise as
many questions as they answer. Has there been any degree of convergence on
the menu of rights? This paper is a very preliminary exploration of the
convergence hypothesis. Based on a large sample of national constitutional
practice, we observe several interesting results. First, international
covenants are themselves diverse, being no more similar to each other on
average than the median pair of constitutions in the sample. Second,
relatively few rights are truly universal in national constitutional
practice. The temporal and geographic patterns appear to be far more
complicated than the simple convergence story would have it. Third,
notwithstanding the diversity, the UDHR and ICCPR do seem to have exerted
some convergence pressure, in that we observe that constitutions adopted
after the international instruments become more similar to the covenants
than they were beforehand. For the ICCPR, this is qualified by the presence
of some constitutions that do not become more similar. This paper was
presented at the conference Sixty Years Since the Adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and Genocide Convention: Evaluating the Record,
at Bar Ilan University on December 10, 2008.

View Article >>


Jide Nzelibe
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Conference

Invoking memories and imagery from the Holocaust and other German atrocities
during World War II, many contemporary commentators and politicians believe
that the international community has an affirmative obligation to deter and
incapacitate perpetrators of humanitarian atrocities. Today, the received
wisdom is that a legalistic approach, which combines humanitarian
interventions with international criminal prosecutions targeting
perpetrators, will help realize the post-World War II vision of making
atrocities a crime of the past. This Article argues, in contrast, that
humanitarian interventions are often likely to create unintended, and
sometimes perverse, incentives among both the victims and perpetrators of
atrocities. The problem is that when the international community intervenes
in the civil wars or insurrections where most humanitarian atrocities take
place, its decision is partially endogenous or interdependent with that of
the combatants; humanitarian interventions both influence and are influenced
by the decisions of the victims and perpetrators of atrocities. Herein lies
the paradox: because humanitarian interventions tend to increase the chance
that rebel or victim group leaders are going to achieve their preferred
political objectives, such leaders might have an incentive to engage in the
kinds of provocative actions that make atrocities against their followers
more likely in the first place. More specifically, the prospect of
humanitarian intervention often increases the level of uncertainty about the
distribution of costs and resolve between the combatants. In turn, such
uncertainty amplifies the possibility of divergent expectations between the
dominant and rebel group regarding the outcome of a civil war. At bottom,
the prospect of humanitarian intervention might sometimes increase the risks
of genocidal violence. This Article turns to insights from the domestic
framework of torts and criminal law to elaborate upon the theoretical
framework that motivates this perverse dynamic, provides some contemporary
illustrations from civil wars in Africa and the Balkans, and recommends
improvements to the current regime to mitigate some of its unintended
effects. This Article concludes that the optimal regime of humanitarian
intervention would incorporate comparative fault principles that take into
account the failure of victim (or rebel) leaders to take adequate
precautions against the risks of humanitarian atrocities. This paper was
presented at the conference Sixty Years Since the Adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and Genocide Convention: Evaluating the Record,
at Bar Ilan University on December 10, 2008.

View Article >>


Elihu D. Richter MD, MPH
Human Rights

Human rights groups have criticized the Israeli government for denying access to Gazans seeking to receive permits for care in hospitals in Israel, the PA and Jordan. Yet the data shows that the number of patients receiving permits for referrals to hospitals in Israel – or the PA or Jordan – increased by 45 percent from 4,932 in 2006 to 7,176 in 2007, and continued to increase in the first six months of 2008, despite increasing rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population.

View Article >>


Justus Weiner
Human Rights

Living amidst a xenophobic Muslim population plagued by endemic violence bordering on anarchy, the Christians have shrunk to less than 1.7 percent of the population in the Palestinian areas. Persecution of Christians in the PA threatens the very existence of this 2000-year-old community.

View Article >>


Dore Gold and Jeff Helmreich
Human Rights

The new attack on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is particularly ironic since Jewish nationhood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years. Given the historical background, it is impossible to argue that the Palestinians have a claim to the Land of Israel superior to that of the Jews.

View Article >>

The Use of Palestinian Children in the Al-Aqsa Intifada


Justus Weiner
Human Rights

This study examines the Palestinian Authority’s intentional mobilization of children to man the front line in its struggle against Israel, frequently as shields to protect Palestinian gunmen. The utilization of children in armed conflicts is barred by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

View Article >>