Between Universalism and Regional Law and Politics: A Comparative History of the American, European and African Human Rights Systems
Forthcoming, I●CON, International Journal of Constitutional Law
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 96
35 Pages Posted: 29 May 2017 Last revised: 8 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 29, 2017
Regional human rights have been heralded as one of the greatest innovations of international law of the 20th century. And yet, the broader debate on the history of human rights has paid surprisingly little attention to regional human rights systems, thereby missing some of the most salient strands of the larger history. This article represents a first systematic attempt to compare the institutional histories of the regional human rights systems in Europe, the Americas and Africa. It reveals how the regional rights systems’ evolution has been shaped in part by the same geopolitical dynamics, and how, in many ways, the systems have explicitly and implicitly worked in tandem, linked by common challenges, and notably by shared ideas and practices. Our story also uncovers that the paths of influence between the regional rights systems are not, as is often assumed, simply unidirectional: while it is undoubtedly the case that the European human rights system became influential in its region earlier, the Latin American and African systems have also contributed to the making of the broader international human rights order.
Keywords: Regional human rights, comparative international law, globalization of law and legal institutions
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