The Sovereignty of Human Rights

ISBN : 9780190267315

Patrick Macklem
272 Pages
161 x 242 mm
Pub date
Oct 2015
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The Sovereignty of Human Rights advances a legal theory of international human rights that defines their nature and purpose in relation to the structure and operation of international law. Professor Macklem argues that the mission of international human rights law is to mitigate adverse consequences produced by the international legal deployment of sovereignty to structure global politics into an international legal order. The book contrasts this legal conception of international human rights with moral conceptions that conceive of human rights as instruments that protect universal features of what it means to be a human being. The book also takes issue with political conceptions of international human rights that focus on the function or role that human rights plays in global political discourse. It demonstrates that human rights traditionally thought to lie at the margins of international human rights law - minority rights, indigenous rights, the right of self-determination, social rights, labor rights, and the right to development - are central to the normative architecture of the field.


1. Field Missions
Human Rights as Moral Concepts
Human Rights as Political Concepts
Human Rights as Legal Concepts
The Plan of the Book
2. Sovereignty and Structure
Sovereignty and its Exercise
Between the National and International
Sovereignty and its Distribution
3. Human Rights: Three Generations or One?
Generations as Chronological Categories
Generations as Analytical Categories
Civil and Political Rights as Monitors of Sovereignty's Exercise
Social and Economic Rights as Monitors of Sovereignty's Exercise
4. International Law at Work
Labor Rights as Instrumental Rights
Labor Rights as Universal Rights
Labor Rights and the Structure of International Law
5. The Ambiguous Appeal of Minority Rights
The Moral Ambiguities of Minority Rights
The Political Ambiguities of Minority Rights
The Interdependence of Sovereignty and Minority Protection
6. International Indigenous Recognition
Indigenous Territories and the Acquisition of Sovereignty
Indigenous Recognition and the International Labour Organization
Indigenous Recognition and the United Nations
The Purpose of International Indigenous Rights
7. Self-Determination in Three Movements
Self-Determination and the Legality of Colonialism
The Many Paradoxes of Self-Determination
Bridging International Law and Distributive Justice
8. Global Poverty and the Right to Development
The Emergence of the Right
Implementing the Right
From Global Poverty to International Law
The Right to Development and the Rise and Fall of Colonialism

About the author: 

Patrick Macklem is the William C. Graham Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is a recurring Visiting Professor at Central European University. In 2006-2007, he was a Senior Global Research Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. In 2007-2008, he was a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on international human rights law, constitutional law, and indigenous peoples and the law.

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