Human Rights, American Exceptionalism, and the Stories We Tell

30 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2010

See all articles by Natsu Taylor Saito

Natsu Taylor Saito

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: 2009


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents a remarkable expansion in the recognition of the fundamental rights of all peoples. Nonetheless, consensus on the implementation of these rights is elusive. Two commonly referenced obstacles to achieving such a consensus are: (1) the United States’ practice of unilaterally exempting itself from international human rights treaties, i.e., American exceptionalism; and (2) resistance from those who see the international human rights movement as a means of imposing Western values on non-Western cultures. Considering these as related issues, both deriving from the Eurocentric nature of contemporary international law, this essay suggests that a truly universal consensus will require a decolonizing of the underlying framework of human rights law.

Keywords: human rights, international law, American exceptionalism, international human rights, treaties

JEL Classification: K00, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Saito, Natsu Taylor, Human Rights, American Exceptionalism, and the Stories We Tell (2009). Emory International Law Review, Vol. 23, p. 41, 2009, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-01, Available at SSRN:

Natsu Taylor Saito (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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