Against a World Court for Human Rights
Ethics and International Affairs, 2014, Forthcoming
23 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 23, 2013
In 2011 a Swiss-sponsored initiative, endorsed by some of the world’s leading human rights lawyers, called for a World Court of Human Rights to be created. It would be permanent, have jurisdiction over 21 different human rights treaties, apply to non-state actors as well as states, and issue binding judgments that could ultimately be enforced by the Security Council. This paper argues that the proposal is fundamentally misconceived. In addition to practical issues such as political feasibility and cost, the proposal overstates the role that can and should be played by judicial mechanisms, downplays the immense groundwork that needs to be undertaken before such a mechanism could be helpful, sets up a straw man to be attacked by those who thrive on exaggerating the threat posed by giving greater prominence to human rights instruments at the international level, and distracts attention from far more pressing and important issues.
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