Needs, Rights, and the Human Family: Human Vulnerability and the Concept of Needs-Based Rights
Barbara Bennett Woodhouse
Emory University School of Law; University of Florida - Levin College of Law
August 25, 2009
Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 9-64
This paper contrasts the constitutional jurisprudence of the United States regarding positive or welfare rights with their broader acceptance in other peer nations and in international law. It focuses particularly on resistance within the U.S. to ratification of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by every other nation except Somalia. The author concludes that shared human vulnerability, which is present throughout life but especially salient in childhood, is the essential reality that undergirds the concept of needs-based rights and is a more useful starting point for thinking about rights than the notion of autonomy or individualism.
Keywords: children’s rights, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), treaty ratification, constitutional law, positive rights, negative rights, comparative law, human rights, vulnerability, solidarity, child welfare, status of children
Date posted: August 26, 2009
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