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Reviving the 'Spirit of San Francisco': The Lost Proposals on Human Rights, Justice and International Law to the UN Charter

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

While it has been claimed that no subject matter has been referred to as frequently in the United Nations (UN) Charter as human rights, a close analysis of its traveaux préparatoires reveals that it contains but a fragment of what was actually proposed during the drafting of the Charter in 1945. This article presents and analyses these 'lost proposals', particularly those seeking strong references to human rights, international law and justice in the Charter's preamble and chapters on the purposes and principles of the UN. Presented by smaller states, they include suggestions that respect for and protection of human rights constitutes a principle of the UN and that the maintenance of peace and security is conditioned on adherence to international law. It concludes that UN peacemakers of today struggle with the same conundrum as the drafters of the UN Charter 60 ago: "What comes first, justice or peace?"

Affiliations: 1: The Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway


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