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From constitutional to human rights: on the moral structure of international human rights

Moller, Kai (2014) From constitutional to human rights: on the moral structure of international human rights. Global Constitutionalism, 3 (3). pp. 373-403. ISSN 2045-3817

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S2045381714000124


The paper presents a theory of the moral structure of international human rights. It proceeds by drawing on recent scholarship on the philosophy of national constitutional rights, which has shown that there is now an emerging global consensus on certain structural features of constitutional rights; in previous work I have summarised this under the label ‘the global model of constitutional rights’. Starting from the theory of rights underlying the global model, the paper asks what modifications, if any, are required to turn that theory into a suitable theory of international human rights. In particular, it examines the widely held view that international human rights are more minimalist than national constitutional rights. Discussing recent work by Ronald Dworkin (on political/constitutional versus human rights) and Joseph Raz (on legitimate authority versus national sovereignty), the paper concludes that it is not possible to make rights more minimalist than they already are under the global model. It follows that the moral structures of national constitutional rights and international human rights are identical. The final section of the paper examines some implications of this result, addressing the issues of the workability of the proposed conception of international human rights in practice, its point and purpose, and discussing the obligations of states to participate in international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2014 09:51
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2021 23:13

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