Chicago Journal of International Law


In the field of international law, a rich body of scholarship has developed among social scientists, international relations theorists, and legal academics focusing on the relationship between international law and the behavior of stares. That inquiry, however, has primarily focused on the impact of law on the behavior of states vis-i-vis each other (or on the behavior of sub-state institutions, such as courts or parliaments), and not directly on the impact of law on the individuals within those states. This is not surprising, given that international law was traditionally understood to have as its subject and object the nation-state, with private individuals deriving benefits, if at all, through and at the discretion of the state. This view of international law has changed, both with the development of areas of international law which explicitly identify private individuals as the subject and object of international law-most notably international human rights law-and with the recognition that international law is not restricted to international institutions, but is embedded in a much more complicated and pervasive environment of transnational legal interactions. In this article, I want to focus the question of the relevance of international human rights law and ask about its impact on those it is designed to benefit-the poor and oppressed of the world. For ease of discussion, I will refer to this broad class of people as "human rights beneficiaries." Recognizing that every individual is a beneficiary of human rights, I intend to focus on those whose rights have already been violated and continue to be violated. [CONT]

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