Human Rights: The Inapplicable Concept

Social Philosophy Today 19:217-235 (2003)
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This paper seeks to ascertain the reasons for the regrettable gap between the extent to which human rights are acknowledged in many countries, and the extent to which residents of those countries in fact are able to enjoy these rights. However, when we seek to assess to what extent residents of those countries in fact enjoy these rights, the findings are somewhat depressing. In this paper I suggest an explanation for this phenomenon and argue that its cause is built into the very structure of Human Rights as these have hitherto been understood. I maintain that because the addressees of such rights are the states’ governments, there is no external body that functions as the guarantor of such rights that has the authority and power to force the governments when they renege on their correlative duties as the addressees of Human Rights



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Ezra Ovadia
Tel Aviv University

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