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Beyond myth and reality on the expedition to the cosmopolitan utopia: The parable of human rights

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For more content, see International Community Law Review.

International law and jurisprudence share a certain bond: both subjects have been characterised by efforts to emerge from the hazy shadows of law. ``Proper'' lawyers do not tire of repeating the old refrain that international law is really ``not law'' at all. Nor do they forbear from asserting to jurisprudence that the recalcitrant questions into which the latter inquire oblige them to use pseudo-rational concepts such as ``morality'' and ``justice,'' leading them down a meandering garden path strewn with metaphysical superstitions. Conventional lawyers generally concern themselves with questions that can be settled by reference to ordinary legal techniques which identify the type of legal argument or evidence that is relevant. They dismiss the importance of resolving questions that are not amenable to the legal method and label them as ``jurisprudential''. It is hoped that international lawyers prove more receptive to taking seriously the jurisprudential questions in their field. What are ``human rights''? Are they the distinctive product of Western liberalism or can they lay claim to being universal in some sense? Far from being idle distractions, these questions have significant implications for the structure of international law.

Affiliations: 1: United Nations Compensation Commission


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