Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics

By Ann Elizabeth Mayer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
International and Islamic Human Rights

International Human Rights: Sources

Even with a focus narrowed to civil and political rights, the range of potential sources regarding international standards for those rights is too vast to permit exhaustive citation and examination in the course of the present study. In part for simplicity's sake, my examination of international human rights will largely leave aside the voluminous academic literature on international human rights, relying instead pri- marily on principles taken from the so-called International Bill of Human Rights, which will be treated as exemplifying the standards of public international law on civil and political rights.

The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), of 1966, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), also of 1966, along with the Optional Protocol of the latter. The 1966 covenants entered into force in 1976. The universal declaration has, since its adoption by the UN General Assembly, achieved great international renown as an authoritative statement of the modern standards of human rights protections and is the single most influential statement of international human rights principles.

In choosing to rely on the International Bill of Human Rights in the comparisons that will be made here, I do not pretend that there are no controversies about what international human rights entail, nor do I claim that the International Bill of Human Rights is universally acknowledged by legal scholars and philosophers to constitute a perfect summation of human rights norms. Some academic specialists have questioned the authoritativeness of these documents, and they may be criticized for inadequacies and lack of balance.

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