Charles Beitz’ idea of human rights and the limits of law

Zysset, A. (2022) Charles Beitz’ idea of human rights and the limits of law. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 25(1), pp. 87-106. (doi: 10.1080/13698230.2020.1859224)

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In this contribution, I challenge Charles Beitz’ account of international human rights law within his practical account of human rights. Throughout his path-breaking book, Beitz insists that the predominant human rights practices are political rather than legal at the global level, which has important implications for the structure and content of his account. Yet, the criteria used to reach that conclusion concentrate on issues of effectiveness and compliance. I show that this lens leaves out important aspects of the current legal practice of human rights. More precisely, I argue that that practice’s overarching and distinctively legal function of human rights is to facilitate the consideration of supranational decisions and norms by domestic authorities, which requires significant procedural conditions established by states. I illustrate this function by looking at the ‘follow-up procedure’ that states have established (with the support of UN agencies) when a decision from UN treaty bodies is rendered against them. I also explain how this function is shaped by the broader relationship of the state with international law defined by the constitutional order. I finally draw some implications of my critique for the Beitzian model of human rights and its practice-centered methodology.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Zysset, Dr Alain
Authors: Zysset, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-8772
Published Online:13 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 25(1): 87-106
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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