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Reading: The Spirit of Laws is Not Universal: Alternatives to the Enforcement Paradigm for Human Rights

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The Spirit of Laws is Not Universal: Alternatives to the Enforcement Paradigm for Human Rights

Author:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta
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Abstract

Drawing on the contested legacy of Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws, this essay questions the efficacy of state-centric legality in the enforcement of human rights, and proposes an alternative approach of cultural transformation and political mobilization. The author begins by exploring whether Montesquieu’s thought may have inspired European powers to seek to impose his model of the nation-state and its positive laws through global colonial projects. Second, the author discusses the structural inadequacy of the current treaty-based state-centric enforcement paradigm while highlighting the viability of a universally realistic alternative of cultural transformation and political mobilization for the implementation of consensus-based human rights norms. Third, the author explores his proposed people-centered alternative to the state-centric enforcement model for human rights. This paradigm shift is necessary because the current legalistic approach has totally failed in providing any protection of human rights for the vast majority of humanity around the world.
How to Cite: An-Na’im AA, ‘The Spirit of Laws Is Not Universal: Alternatives to the Enforcement Paradigm for Human Rights’ (2016) 21 Tilburg Law Review 255 DOI: http://doi.org/10.1163/22112596-02102008
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Published on 12 Oct 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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