International Law, Dignity, Democracy, and the Arab Spring

19 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2012 Last revised: 2 Apr 2014

See all articles by Jordan J. Paust

Jordan J. Paust

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: July 15, 2013


Various individual and group participants in the Arab Spring have noticeably embraced and reaffirmed predominant patterns of human expectation and claims occurring worldwide regarding individual dignity and worth, self-determination of peoples, related human rights with respect to relatively free and genuine participation in governmental processes and the standard of legitimacy of governments, democracy as a universal core value, and the right of rebellion or revolution and the concomitant right of a given people to seek self-determination assistance. As documented, each of these forms of human expectation and claim has a present legal and policy mooring in basic international legal instruments, including the United Nations Charter and a number of authoritative human rights instruments. This article also contains a section near the end on the propriety of U.S. and NATO use of force in Libya to protect civilians and to support regime change or self-determination assistance.

Keywords: Arab Spring, democracy, Egypt, human dignity, human rights, International Covenant, legitimate government, Libya, political oppression, rebellion, regime change in Libya, revolution, Security Council, self-determination, Syria, tyranny, U.N. Charter, Universal Declaration, use of force, Yemen

Suggested Citation

Paust, Jordan J., International Law, Dignity, Democracy, and the Arab Spring (July 15, 2013). 46 Cornell International Law Journal 1 (2013), U of Houston Law Center No. 2012-A-3, Available at SSRN:

Jordan J. Paust (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

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