Imagining a World Without the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

21 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2014

See all articles by Zachary Elkins

Zachary Elkins

University of Texas, Austin

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

James Melton

University College London - School of Public Policy

Date Written: March 8, 2014

Abstract

We build towards a prediction of the content of the world’s constitutions, conditional upon the absence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The paper, at this juncture, is one-part research design, and one-part evidence. The theory guiding the background causal mechanism is highly intuitive, so we omit it here except in summary form. We identify two empirical implications that should follow if the UDHR has, indeed, been an influential reference point for those drafting constitutions subsequent to 1948. The first – that its content has projected onto subsequent national constitutions – was the subject of a recent article by two of us (plus one). We focus our attention here on a second implication: that the UDHR’s similarity to post-UDHR constitutions represents some deviation from the trajectory of constitutional design. This question requires untangling the effect of the UDHR from that of its milieu, which could plausibly be the source of ideas for both the UDHR and subsequent constitutions. Our approach is to unearth the process that produced the UDHR, which was fortunately a highly documented affair. Our investigation targets accidental elements of the process in order to trace its signature in subsequent texts.

Suggested Citation

Elkins, Zachary and Ginsburg, Tom and Melton, James, Imagining a World Without the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (March 8, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2469194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2469194

Zachary Elkins (Contact Author)

University of Texas, Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

James Melton

University College London - School of Public Policy ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
247
Abstract Views
1,946
rank
123,914
PlumX Metrics