International Law And Human Rights

Publication Date01 Mar 1960
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1960.tb00582.x
AuthorD. A. V. Boyle
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND HUMAN
RIGHTS
THE main problem which confronts international lawyers today
is
the problem of the dectiveness of international law.’ There
would seem to be two essential conditions which must be satisfied
before any law can be effective. First, there must
be
a
funda-
mentally similar sense
of
values amongst’ at least
a
majority
of
the
persons to whom the law is to apply.
If
this is absent the law has
no real strength.2 Secondly, there must be a legal system.
Although there can be no adequate definition of a legal system,
except in
a
relative sense,
it
is probable that there must be
machinery to lay down the provisions of the law
(e.g.,
a
legislature),
to decide on the meaning of the law and its application to particular
cases
(e.g.,
the courts), and to enforce the decisions of those who
apply the law
(e.g.,
the p~lice).~ The whole problem appears
particularly clearly in the matter of human rights.
The first attempt to bring
‘‘
human rights
as a whole within
the scope of international law was made in the United Nations
Charter. Thus article
1
(3)
provides that the organisation and its
members shall seek “to achieve international co-operation
.
. .
in promoting and encouraging respect
for
human rights
.
.
.
without
distinction as to race, sex, language
or
religion.”
It
is probable
however that this article provides no legal obligation
to
respect
human
right^,^
and even
if
it
did the extent of the obligation would
be disputable since
it
is nowhere defined
in
the Charter.’ The
Economic and Social Council, however, being charged with the
task of promoting human rights,” has set up a Commission under
authority in the Charter
for
the purpose of preparing an Inter-
national Bill of Human Rights with effective machinery for its
enforcement. The initial result of the Commission’s work was the
adoption in
1948
by the General Assembly,’
of
the Universal
Declaration of Human
right^.^
Schwarzenberger,
The Impact
of
the East-West Rift
on
International Law,
vol.
36,
Transactions of the Grotius Society.
1950.
2
Brierly,
The
L,‘Iw
of
Nations
(5th ed.), p.
111.
Ibid.
p.
73.
Among
the most serious shortcomings of the present system
are
the rudimentary character of the institutions which exist for the making
and the applicationbf the law
.
.
.
.”
4
Goodrich
&
Hambro,
The Charter
of
the United Nations-Commentary
and
Documents,
p.
97;
Oppenheim,
International Law
(ed. Lauterpacht), 8th ed.,
vnl.
T
n
739.
-
-7
r-
Ibid.,
and Oppenheim,
op. cit.,
p.
740.
Art.
62
(2),
and see art.
55
(c).
Art. 78.
The Declaration
88
a
whole was adopted by 48 votes with
8
abstentions.
General Assembly Resolution
217
(111).
December 10, 1948. Treaty Series,
United Nations No. 2
(1949):’
Cmd.
7662.
167

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT