International Human Rights
Vladimir A. Kartashkin and Stephen P. Marks
Human rights has become part of the international legal order essentially since 1945 and in recent decades has been recognized as constituting a branch of public international law.1 Although international human rights law has emerged within the traditional state-centric model of international relations, it functions dialectically in relation to that model in the sense that it limits prerogatives traditionally left to the state, and thus challenges to a certain extent the idea of sovereignty on which that system is still based. This dialectical relation between state sovereignty and international human rights is reflected in the expanding corpus of international human rights law, which establishes states' obligations under customary international law, as well as the U.N. Charter and other treaties.
In this chapter we will begin by reviewing the place and content of international human rights law. This body of law and the proposition that it can limit state sovereignty is being tested today in the cauldron of the break-up of sovereign states, including one whose superpower status allowed it to tip the human rights-state sovereignty dialectic in favor of the latter. We will explore some of the issues arising out of the application of human rights law in situations of armed conflict and ethnic strife. Finally, the effectiveness of this branch of international law, like law in general, depends on the availability of effective remedies. We will outline those available domestically and internationally in the final section. The common thread running through this chapter is that the post-Cold War era, in spite of the loss of the stability of super-power rivalry, has cleared the path for vigorous application of international human rights law. The