Equality Across Legal Cultures – The Role for International Human Rights

13 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2012

Date Written: 2004


Other nations have grappled with the question of what it means to grant equality under the law. Looking at their struggles with equality demonstrates that the very word may be modified, and therefore understood, in many different ways.

This paper looks at some of the various ways in which equality can be implemented through the lens of international legal documents. While the United States has stuck mostly to formal equality, where universal laws are applied equally to everyone. However, other countries, through their foundational documents and international treaties, have gone further, embracing substantive equality which focuses on objectives or goals to be attained, not one measuring the nature of treatment.

Unlike many of the countries that have that have ratified the international human rights documents that provide for more substantive and qualitative equality, the United States has the wealth and economic wherewithal to accomplish a full sense of equality for all citizens. What we have lacked is the will to do so.

Keywords: Substantive equality, international law, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, formal equality, social equality, civil rights, political rights, social rights

Suggested Citation

Fineman, Martha Albertson, Equality Across Legal Cultures – The Role for International Human Rights (2004). Thomas Jefferson Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2005, Emory Public Law Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2132256

Martha Albertson Fineman (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-2421 (Phone)

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