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International Human Rights Law


International human rights law refers to guidelines and principles that protect universal features of human beings from sovereign power exercise. Human rights also possess international legal significance (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). The committee monitors the distribution of justices of the international legal order. International human rights law came because of the Second World War. The National General Assembly later adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The declaration significantly strengthened international human rights law. The declaration elaborated common standards that all nations needed to achieve (Shelton, 2013). Noteworthy, all societies cross-culturally manifest the concept of human rights. Regardless, states can never be forced to comply with their obligation under international human rights law. The allegation firmly arises when states do not want to comply with the law.

The Obligation of the International Human Rights Law

The guideline surrounding international treaties weakens the ability to force member states to comply with the law. The international treaty mandates all member states to comply and respect international human rights law (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Member states must carry out legal duties under the laws in respecting human rights. The guideline is silent because it does not stipulate legal obligations whenever states operate outside the law. The guidelines major in offering policies that states need to follow to ensure respect for human rights (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Legal duties regarding non-compliance are not in the guidelines. Acts of non-compliance are attributes of state legislation. The guideline significantly contradicts the obligation of the UN Committee (Shelton, 2013). It contradicts the committee’s role in making states comply with international human rights law obligations. The policies further give States absolute power in protecting human rights.

International treaties on human rights law only offer assistance and cooperation to States thus can not force the state to comply. For example, states must fulfill the policies (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). It mandates states to take administrative, budgetary, and judicial measures in realizing human rights. The scope of the obligation also depends and involves the establishment of institutional machinery by the state. States take the central role in realizing international human rights. States create all procedural conditions institutions and provide various material benefits essential in realizing human rights. The obligation to fulfill further involves the States positive action (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). States’ proactive roles make them immune to being forced to comply with international human rights law. Thus, international treaties cannot force states to comply with international human rights obligations.

Secondly, international treaties on human rights law were a product of experience and not a product of logic since each state has a unique experience on human rights. For example, most States tend to align individual implementation of human rights law with religious beliefs (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Religion has generated the massive difference between western and non-western conceptions of human rights. The western view mirrors human rights as a weapon people can use to defend themselves. The argument on international law and domestic law taking precedence also protects states. The two legal instruments make it hard to determine the supremacy of international treaties on human rights law (Shelton, 2013). Thus, if states do not wish to align with their obligations under international human rights law, they cannot be forced to comply.

Thirdly, it is difficult to force states to comply with international human rights law because of ideological differences in human rights. The assertion arises from the deliberation commission recognizing two crucial human rights ideas (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). For example, western states align with ideologies that heavily rely on civil liberties. Western ideologies on international human rights law further major on individual freedom. The states rely heavily on the liberal philosophies of their founding fathers. The commission also recognizes states that view human rights as part of deliverable obligations (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Further, these states allege that human rights are mere obligations directed to them by other interventionist states. The two polar views significantly influence how states comply with international human rights law. The human rights committee can only undertake discussions on clarifying the parameter of the rights (Shelton, 2013). The committee further monitors the issues hindering the effective implementation of covenant rights. Compliance complaints are authoritative despite not being legally binding. The international community units can only deal with cases of states overstepping human rights through criticism (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). The international units further criticize the state for upholding the set consensual values. For example, the United States has faced several criticisms of human rights values like other nations. Thus, it is difficult to force states to comply with their obligations.

Lastly, extraterritorial human rights implementation and jurisdictions can never be interfered with by other states. The rights of other states in the covenant are limited by extraterritorial human rights jurisdiction (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). External states lack sufficient rights to interfere with the human rights laws implementation of the victims’ countries. The obligation usually applies to all member states and does not merit sweeping statements of the initial draft. It is upon the victims’ state to protect and promote human rights to its citizens. The human rights law mandates states to protect their citizens from various forms of human rights abuses (Shelton, 2013). Jurisdiction aspects implementation focuses on protecting and promoting human rights (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). External states can only impose sanctions on states that disregard their obligation. Thus, states can never be made to comply with their international human rights law obligations if they do not wish to.

Sovereignty of States

The sovereignty of states significantly draws a boundary between domestic legal law and international law because conflict always arises in determining the superior law (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Besides, legal disciplines draw several debates regarding the nature of applicable law. Despite international law being considered superior, the sovereignty of states crucially determines the nation’s constitution. States’ constitution further elaborates its jurisdiction and other jurisdictional competence on its people (Shelton, 2013). The international treaties have a minimal role in implementing the set guidelines on international human rights law. States take total responsibility for regulating extraterritorial activities in their jurisdiction. The only infringement that international treaties offer is concerning safeguarding human rights (Shelton, 2013). It is upon the state to take protective and preventive measures towards international human rights laws.

International laws and treaties are mere interpretation tools essential in developing domestic laws. International treaties on human rights law are also not universally agreed on based on differences in societies (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). These treaties are only useful for judicial review in sovereign states. States like other corporate bodies can only bear obligations to these international treaties. States build dependencies on domestic legal law making it hard to force them to comply with international treaties (Shelton, 2013). It is vital to note the interdependence between domestic and international laws. Thus, it is difficult to force states to comply with international human rights obligations if they do not wish to comply.

Forcing states to comply with their obligation can also trigger issues of external military intervention. Military interventions are usually costly, especially in external countries (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Further, forcing states to comply with obligations can trigger resistance from other member states due to issues of respecting the states’ sovereignty. Forcing states to comply with their obligations rarely benefits their citizens (Shelton, 2013). The Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Committee stresses preventing interference with other states. It stresses that third parties need to respect the enjoyment of human rights in other countries. Third parties can only influence other states through legal and political means. The legal and political means need to be per the United Nations Charter (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). Thus, it is difficult to force states to comply with their human rights law obligations if they do not intend to do so.

Lack of Enforcement Body

States are also free to withdraw from international treaties. Therefore, they need not comply with the law. States have a central obligation to obey their domestic laws (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). People tend to work hand-in-hand with a particular state’s monopoly. The absence of a direct international, federal marshal also contributes to most non-compliance due to a lack of standing international law enforcement officers to implement compliance mandates. There is no strong political support advocating for creating an enforcement body. The inefficiency poses a major threat to international human rights law (Shelton, 2013). As a result, this greatly disregards the fact that states constantly violate their legal obligations. For example, states use religion, culture, and faith in violating some international human rights laws.

It is difficult to build enforcement bodies because treaties are a mere exchange of promises not accompanied by solemn acts (Shelton, 2013). It is further vital to note that treaties are more like contracts. The treaties are never morally binding. Despite the international-law commentators’ argument that treaties are binding because of the state consents, their assertions are never the whole story. Further, a state’s act of consent is never a useful condition in creating compliance obligations for member states (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). The human rights committee can only create legal obligations through additional formalities. Regardless, the member states themselves cannot create a neutral body.

Economic Constraints

States cannot comply with international human rights law obligations because of the heavy financial burden. For example, if powerful states take the role of the police force, they might face severe economic challenges since the job is an enormous burden (Chowdhury & Bhuiyan, 2010). The applicable international law also mandates other states to work towards the realization of human rights. It requires states to take necessary preventative, punitive, and protective measures in realizing international human rights law (Shelton, 2013). The economic burden of forcing states to comply with their obligation under international human rights law is massive.


States can comply with international human rights law obligations if they intend to respect the law. The assertion arises that the Human Rights committee lacks an enforcement body to conduct policy mandates. All member states must promote international human rights laws. The sovereignty of a state is also highly respected at the international level. Economic challenges also significantly influence how other states politically and legally intervene. It is difficult to force states to comply with their international human rights obligations.


Chowdhury, A. R., & Bhuiyan, J. H. (Eds.). (2010). An introduction to international human rights law. Brill.

Shelton, D. (Ed.). (2013). The Oxford handbook of international human rights law. OUP Oxford.


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