Sunday, February 2, 2020
Rossana Deplano, a Lecturer at Leicester Law School, has posted a new paper that undertakes an empirical examination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' treatment in U.S. courts. Here is the short abstract for the paper, which was presented at the 2019 Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum:
"This paper contributes to the conceptualization of the customary status of the UDHR by focusing on the use US federal courts have made of it (1949-2018). It provides one of the possible angles of inquiry, but it does not claim completeness. In performing an empirical study, it aims at supplementing, rather than replacing, legal theory on this issue."
The paper takes a rigorous empirical approach to examining the issue, reviewing recent US cases and charting their citations and treatment of the UDHR. In the end, the paper concludes:
"What the findings suggest is that, in accordance with the principle of separation of powers, it is down to Congress to internalize the UDHR rights in statute, thus empowering the courts to enforce them. In this sense, the UDHR has a moral force and should be considered as ‘a source of obligation’ rather than a source of law in its own right.
In conclusion, it appears that the customary status of the UDHR in US and international law is greatly exaggerated, especially in the writings of scholars. Further research in this field may prove or disprove the findings of this study, thus providing a more comprehensive picture of the
current legal status of the UDHR under domestic and international law. Much remains to be done in advancing the global cause of human rights."
The paper can be downloaded from the Social Science Research Network.