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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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Dinah L. Shelton


The initial, critical contribution of the UN was to internationalize the topic of human rights in an organization of universal aim and mandate. As discussed throughout this volume, the very purposes of the UN include promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. Other Charter provisions, notably Articles 55 and 56, also contributed to placing human rights firmly on the organization’s agenda. Taken together these provisions made clear that respect for human rights is a matter of international concern, establishing the essential foundation for the development of human rights law at both global and regional levels.

The organs of the UN have given content to the Charter references by adopting a comprehensive set of human rights treaties and other legal instruments, delineating the accepted international minimum standards. This standard-setting has been accomplished through a global political process open to all UN member States. All the main UN organs are concerned with human rights, and separate treaty bodies of independent experts exist for each of the nine core human rights instruments adopted within the framework of the UN. In addition, the UN’s legally independent specialized agencies take up human rights issues within the scope of their jurisdiction and expertise. The mandates of all these UN human rights bodies parallel and to some degree overlap each other.

Regional organizations generally provide additional norms and compliance monitoring. The UN was initially sceptical of regional protection of human rights, despite references in regional texts to the UN Charter...

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