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Advanced Introduction to International Human Rights Law

Dinah L. Shelton

In this landmark text, Dinah Shelton offers an insightful overview of the current state of international human rights law: its norms, institutions and procedures, both global and regional. Providing an invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, and an insightful reference for seasoned experts, the book will prove a useful resource for professors and practitioners of international law. It will also serve as a stimulating introductory text for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on human rights.
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5 The rights guaranteed

Dinah L. Shelton

Extract

This chapter summarizes the rights guaranteed and jurisprudence of human rights bodies interpreting some of the rights. As it is not possible to fully analyse all the rights mentioned in international instruments, the chapter examines several rights as examples of the development of human rights jurisprudence.

The human rights catalogue today includes civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. All these rights are understood as interdependent and indivisible.1 The early decision to draft separate Covenants for civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights, on the other hand, both reflected and reinforced perceptions common at the time that these constituted separate categories of rights with clear distinctions between them. In part, the division reflected Cold War ideological views about the role of the State. The two categories of rights were also believed to require different measures of implementation, whereby civil and political rights would require that States abstain from interfering with their exercise (negative obligations) while economic, social and cultural rights would demand positive State policies and programmes to ensure the provision of medical care, education, social security and similar rights within this category. In part as a consequence of the negative/positive distinction, civil and political rights were perceived to be capable of domestic enforcement through litigation, while economic and social rights were restricted to the purview of political organs of government.

The stated differences are not as clear in practice as they are in theory. Civil rights like the...

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