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7 The Emergence of International Human Rights Law (1969)

From: The United Nations Commission on Human Rights: 'A Very Great Enterprise'

John P. Pace

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 28 February 2021

Disappearances — Apartheid — Genocide

This chapter addresses the emergence of International Human Rights Law. International Human Rights Law consists of international norms set out in instruments adopted over the years. These consist of binding instruments, which carry obligations (such as ‘covenant’, ‘convention’ and ‘protocol’) and non-binding instruments (such as ‘declaration’, ‘guiding principles’, ‘basic principles’ and ‘standard minimum rules’, also described as ‘soft’ law). They are all related, directly or indirectly, to the rights in the International Bill of Human Rights, which may be considered as the substantive canopy of International Human Rights Law. As the International Bill of Human Rights was reaching completion in the mid-1960s, a process developed that complemented the International Bill with conventions on specific rights, protecting (vulnerable) groups, such as the child, women, persons with disabilities and migrant workers, and conventions protecting against the violation of specific rights, such as freedom from racial discrimination, freedom from torture and from involuntary disappearance. The conventions which envisage a system by which an expert body (treaty body) monitors the implementation by States Parties of their treaty obligations came to be referred to as ‘core’ conventions. The chapter also looks at non-core conventions, as well as declarations and other norms.

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