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  • Author: Philip Alston
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: From its relatively modest beginnings in 1945, the universal human rights regime has come a very long way. Few if any of those who drafted the apparently unthreatening, but nonetheless foundational, provisions of the United Nations Charter dealing with human rights would have imagined that less than seventy years later the Security Council would have taken action in relation to serious human rights violations in a significant range of countries, that governments would have established an International Criminal Court, or that there would be a wide range of mechanisms that regularly and routinely hold states to account for their human rights performance across a very wide range of issues. This is not, however, to suggest that many of the most egregious human rights problems have been radically ameliorated. They clearly have not. The subjugation of women is a continuing phenomenon in a great many societies, and gender equality remains an unachieved goal even in the most developed economies. Racial discrimination is a constant and forms of ethnic and religious discrimination continue to be both inventive and invidious. Hunger, the denial of basic health care, and access to decent housing are problems that persist on a vast scale around the world. In addition, torture, disappearances, and unlawful killings continue to take place in the majority of states.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: James von Geldern
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: When the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was drafted in 1998, it represented a signal moment in the history of human rights. Here, finally, was a document that not only enunciated humanitarian protections, it also offered a means to punish individuals guilty of violating them. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the Statute “a gift of hope to future generations, and a giant step forward in the march towards universal human rights and the rule of law.” Drafting Committee Chairman Cherif Bassiouni stressed that the world would never again be the same. This was the last step of a history that had started at the end of the First World War and meant that impunity for the perpetrators of grave crimes of international concern was no longer tolerable. It would not eliminate all conflicts or bring victims back to life, but it would bring justice.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Proma Sen
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: On a preliminary reading of “International Criminal Justice: Growing Pains or Incurable Contradictions,” by Professor James von Geldern, one understands that the debate about enforcement arises from the assumption of a pre-existing set of human rights concerns in the world today. Beyond the continuing debate surrounding the universal applicability versus the cultural relativism of these rights, the very existence of human rights in today's globalizing context leads to the question of how these rights can be protected and who is responsible for their enforcement? To date, the largest internationally accepted organization with the combined political power of multiple nations is the United Nations and its various sub-organizations. The highest global power seemingly permitted to pass cross-national judgments today is the International Criminal Court (ICC), formed by the Rome Statute, which was drafted in 1998. Yet the ICC has not convicted enough aggressors to truly be deemed a successful mechanism for justice.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Ezequiel Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles created an international tribunal in order to prosecute Kaiser Wilhelm II for initiating the First World War. However, the Kaiser sought refuge in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Queen Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria refused to cooperate with the new tribunal or surrender her cousin to the Allied Powers. Much has changed in the Netherlands since. As a pioneer country in the advancement of human rights, the Netherlands has participated actively in the development and enforcement of multiple treaties and conferences hosted by the United Nations. Today, the city of The Hague is proud to call itself an “international city of Peace and Justice.” Indeed, The Hague is the host of multiple international courts; evidencing the Netherlands commitment to protect human rights. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is one of the most prominent institutions the Netherlands honorably hosts.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Netherlands