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Justice and Realpolitik: International Law and the Prevention of Genocide

NCJ Number
American Journal of Jurisprudence Volume: 33 Dated: (1988) Pages: 123-159
L R Beres
Date Published
37 pages
This article traces the history of international legal efforts to prevent genocide, emphasizing the need for states to intervene to protect the human rights of people by using moral authority without the threat of force.
The author examines how the natural law, the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the Genocide Convention, and the United Nations Charter have contributed to our understanding of human rights. There is now in place a body of international agreements that put human welfare above the interests of individual governments. While there is precedent in international law for punishing a state's genocidal acts during wartime, post World War II conventions expand international law by penalizing domestic genocidal acts. Individual countries must recognize their interdependence and responsibility to support human dignity. A new political consciousness must be shaped to create an organic world society. The powers and responsibilities of the proposed world society are discussed, with special emphasis on its capacity to use force to ensure compliance with human rights norms. 36 footnotes.


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