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Part I The Foundations of International Human Rights Law, 2 Notions and Sources

From: The Law of International Human Rights Protection (2nd Edition)

Walter Kälin, Jörg Künzli

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Subject(s):
Human rights — Individuals and non-state actors — International law and international relations

This chapter clarifies the concept of human rights in legal terms. Although there is no legal definition that would clearly distinguish human rights from other guarantees and entitlements deriving from international law, the characteristic traits of human rights may be described as follows: human rights create entitlements; the beneficiaries of these entitlements are individuals; these rights can be asserted vis-à-vis states or quasi-state entities but, in principle, not private actors; they are applicable, as a matter of principle, in peacetime and in times of armed conflict; they are internationally guaranteed; and this international entrenchment of human rights is rooted in the acknowledgment by states that the entitlements in question are necessary to safeguard human dignity and the development of the human person and must therefore be deemed fundamental.

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