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  • UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Outlines basic human rights including:
  • The right to life, liberty and nationality
  • Freedom of opinion, conscience, and religion
  • Right to work
  • Right to an education
  • Right to take part in the nation’s public business


  • United Nations Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • All three documents = International Charter of Human Rights
  • Other conventions cover racial discrimination, elimination of torture and rights of children.
  • 1993 – Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) created due to high volume of conventions and initiatives.

High Commissioner:

  • Coordinates activities of UN agencies,
  • Prevents violations of basic human rights,
  • Investigates violations, and
  • Works with governments to assist them in solving problems

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)

  • Non-profit organizations that work to foster political and economic co-operation.  World’s largest HR NGO is Amnesty International and the largest HR NGO in the United States is Human Rights Watch.

International Conflict and Collective Security

  • International law attempts to resolve international conflict through a system of collective security.
  • Collective Security: A joint effort on the part of the global community to deal with threats to peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression.

Peaceful and Military Resolution of State Conflicts

  • Article 2(3) UN Charter, ‘All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.’
Biofuels effects: Social, Economic, Political & Environmental

Settlement of Disputes

  • Article 33:  parties to a dispute first of all seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
  • Article 34:  The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction
  • Article 36:  SC may make recommendations
  • Judicial Dispute Resolution
  • Nonjudicial Dispute Resolution
  • Arbitration and adjudication before an international tribunal
  • Negotiation, mediation, conciliation
  • Perceived to be objective, focused and directed by rule of law
  • Parties have more control over resolution process, generally quicker and cheaper
  • Costly, less efficient and result in all-or-nothing decisions
  • Subject to political pressures
  • Decisions are binding, cannot unilaterally withdraw from process
  • Decisions are recommendations

  • Negotiation: form of international bargaining; restricted to the disputing parties.
  • Mediation: requires a third party mediator (impartial and friendly third state).  Algeria acted as a mediator in the US and Iran hostage crisis.
  • Conciliation: commission hears the dispute, collects all necessary information and bring the parties to an agreement
  • Arbitration: both parties must agree to submit matter to a third party (the arbitrator).  The arbitrator’s decision is final.
  • Adjudication: the International Court of Justice.

International Criminal Court (ICC), July 2002

  • Set up to try people for genocide and crimes against humanity
  • Genocide:  the deliberate and systematic killing of a whole ethnic or racial group
  • War Crimes include:
    • intentionally launching an attack that will cause loss of life or injury to civilians, or damage to civilian or cultural objects
    • widespread, long term, and severe damage to the natural environment
    • use of prohibited weapons, including poisonous or other gases
    • methods of war that cause unnecessary suffering or are inherently indiscriminate in claiming victims.

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