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The international human rights system enters the twenty-first century facing a profound anomaly. Despite remarkable normative and institutional developments since the system's inception, the world remains mired in widespread violations of human dignity. Genocidal episodes have repeatedly scarred the consciousness of humankind since World War ll. Floods of refugees and simmering ethnic conflicts continually challenge the international community's capacity to respond, and grotesque forms of physical abuse, such as torture and summary execution, remain commonplace Despite a promising trend toward democratic governance around the world, basic civil liberties for countless millions remain only an empty promise.' Most disheartening of all, the two greatest enemies of human dignity, armed conflict and poverty, relentlessly plague the vast majority of humankind. It seems undeniable that the elaborate international human rights edifice, now often rhetorically central in international relations, has made and can continue to make some difference. Yet, it is equally undeniable that the system has yet to fulfill its promises or significantly reduce violations of human rights worldwide.


Copyright (c) 2006, The Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Inc.

This work was originally published by The Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law of the University of Georgia School of Law. An electronic copy of the article has been made available in this electronic Repository with permission from the author(s) under the doctrine of fair use for nonprofit educational purposes.