Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law

Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Sarah Joseph and Adam McBeth

This innovative and timely Handbook brings together the work of 25 leading human rights scholars from all over the world to consider a broad range of human rights topics.

Chapter 1: The United Nations and Human Rights

Sarah Joseph and Joanna Kyriakakis

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Sarah Joseph and Joanna Kyriakakis 1 Introduction After the Second World War, the United Nations (‘UN’) brought human rights firmly into the sphere of international law in its own constituent document, the UN Charter,1 in 1945.2 The purposes of the UN included, in Article 1(3), the promotion and encouragement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Under Articles 55 and 56, Member States are committed to ‘joint and separate action’ to create ‘conditions of stability and well-being’ across the world, including the promotion of ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion’. Thus, from 1945, it was clear that human rights could no longer be characterised as a domestic issue, hidden by the veil of State sovereignty. Since 1945, the UN has been instrumental in the process of standardsetting, that is, creating treaties and other documents that set out universally recognised human rights. Most famously of course, it adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (‘UDHR’) in 1948,3 following up (though years later) with a series of treaties protecting various human rights. The UN has also created various internal institutions to monitor and supervise the implementation of human rights. There are political bodies, established under the rubric of the UN Charter, such as the Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. There are treaty bodies, established under the core UN human rights treaties, which monitor the implementation and interpretation of...

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