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In Search of a Solid Foundation for Universally Binding Legal Human Rights


In 1948, the United Nations signed the Universal Declaration of Rights and Freedoms (UDRF). In 1998, the language of rights is wide-spread around the world. In many countries, individuals ask that their rights be respected. However, these individuals’ rights are not always recognized and respected. Could one reason be because there is no such thing as universally shared human rights? For this paper, let us assume that universally shared human rights exist ; it is our burden of proof to show that there is a solid foundation for thinking that there can be such things as universal legal human rights. If we are able to find a solid foundation for universal legal human rights, then there will be reasons to think that the UDRF is in fact binding world-wide.

We intend to solve the problem set out above by attempting a rational reconstruction of a "practically" rational legal order which will allow us to explicitate the necessary conditions for the existence of such an order. We will have to show that rational legal orders are a subset of rational political orders which, in turn, are organizational forms that have a certain general goal, the "commonwealth" of its contributors.

It is important to understand that we do not want to answer that question "what is law?" or "what are rights?", but rather the question "what are the characters of laws or rights that indicate to us that we should recognize them, follow them and consider them to be ‘really’ binding?". Also, it is important that, in this essay, we will take law to be peculiar to political orders. We will take this assumption to be evident for the moment, but it could be the object of further research.

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