Up to 1945, international law “was generally concerned only with the rights and duties of states” (Dixon 2007). The adoption of The Charter of the United Nations and the subsequent establishment of the United Nations system set the pillars of the global human rights regime. The emergence of this regime emphasized that the issue of human rights was “no longer recognised as being solely within the domestic jurisdiction of states” (Shaw 2008). The UN’s authority to promote human rights was established in Article 55 of the Charter, while Article 56 obligates member-states “to take joint and separate action in co-operation” with the UN to promote, expand and strengthen the human rights regime.
Even though the Charter’s adoption proved to be an important milestone in the evolution of the contemporary human rights regime, it is important to note that it did not define these rights. This was achieved by the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
While not legally binding, the document’s language and provisions have been codified in more than 80 international and regional human rights treaties. The UDHR directly influenced the provisions of the UN’s core human rights instruments. These include nine conventions and nine optional protocols.
Unfortunately, the expansion of international human rights law has not averted gross violations of these standards. The growing gap between ideal and reality has raised important questions regarding the current state of the global human rights regime and states’ commitments to their international human rights obligations. This project assesses the current state of the global human rights regime while evaluating state and non-state actors’ willingness “to protect, promote, and fulfill human rights”.