Human Rights, American Exceptionalism, and the Stories We Tell
30 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2010
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: Suggested Citation