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The End of Virtue? Denmark and the Internationalisation of Human Rights

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The article analyses the interface of Denmark and internationalisation of human rights with the goal of examining the transformation of the place and perception of international law in Scandinavia over the last decades. More precisely, the article contrasts two fundamentally different moments of the interface of international human rights and Denmark: first a period of external engagement in which Denmark – and the other Scandinavian countries – developed their position as virtuous defenders of international law and human rights and, secondly, the eventual national implications of international human rights law. This approach allows us to more generally analyse the interrelationship between the internationalisation of human rights and its eventual effect on Danish legal and political practices. We generally argue that the original politics of virtue in the area of international law and particularly international human rights law declined when international human rights started having national implications, that is, it no longer was simply a good of export. We, moreover, argue that the realistic approach developed in the national context now is having significant spill-over effects on Denmark's international policies in the area.

Affiliations: 1: Director, Danish Institute for Human Rights; 2: Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Director, Centre of Studies in Legal Culture


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