Needs, Rights, and the Human Family: Human Vulnerability and the Concept of Needs-Based Rights

Posted: 26 Aug 2009  

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Emory University School of Law; University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2009

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Woodhouse, Barbara Bennett, Needs, Rights, and the Human Family: Human Vulnerability and the Concept of Needs-Based Rights (August 25, 2009). Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 9-64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1461459

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-4934 (Phone)
404-727-6820 (Fax)

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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