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The Space Between: On the Emergence of an International Legal Practice of Human Rights

  • Author(s): Trefethen, Amanda L.
  • Advisor(s): James, Aaron
  • et al.

There is a lacuna in our understanding of what it is to have legal human right. While moral philosophers frequently address what it is to have a human right, qua human, and legal philosophers discuss what it is that constitutes a legal right, it is not yet clear what it is to have a legal human right distinct from these pursuits. It is generally agreed that not all human rights in the international practice are legal rights for everyone. Legal effectiveness is largely dependent on treaty ratification and domestic commitments. However, this inequality in the effectiveness of legally claimable rights poses a crucial problem for the international practice of human rights, which takes universality and the demands for equitable treatment as central aims of that practice. This dissertation aims to examine this problem and to discuss the state of the emerging legal practice of human rights. It offers a measure, through a standard of adjudicability, for recognizing when legal human rights claims have become effective. The goal is to provide clarity on how this legal practice of human rights might properly emerge in keeping with its own founding principles.

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