Human Rights: Universalism or the Integrity of a Common Enterprise?

19 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016 Last revised: 14 Dec 2016

See all articles by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2016


When courts in one country cite judicial opinions about fundamental rights issued in other countries, do they do this just because they consider the truth about fundamental rights to be universal? I argue that this is not a good reason. The quest for universal truth might be better served by diversity and national experimentation. The real reason is because the people of the world have taken up human rights as a common enterprise and it is important to secure what Ronald Dworkin called the "integrity" of that enterprise.

Keywords: Consensus, Diversity, Foreign Law, Fundamental Rights, Human Rights, Integrity, Treating Like Cases Alike, Universalism

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Human Rights: Universalism or the Integrity of a Common Enterprise? (September 1, 2016). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-48. Available at SSRN: or

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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