Chicago Journal of International Law


It is sadly academic to ask whether international human rights law should trump US domestic law. That is because, on the few occasions when the US government has ratified a human rights treaty, it has done so in a way designed to preclude the treaty from having any domestic effect. Washington pretends to join the international human rights system, but it refuses to permit this system to improve the rights of US citizens. This approach reflects an attitude toward international human rights law of fear and arrogance-fear that international standards might constrain the unfettered latitude of the global superpower, and arrogance in the conviction that the United States, with its long and proud history of domestic rights protections, has nothing to learn on this subject from the rest of the world. As other governments increasingly see through this short-sighted view of international human rights law, it weakens America's voice as a principled defender of human rights around the world and diminishes America's moral influence and stature. [CONT]