Chicago Journal of International Law


This Comment, which proceeds in five parts, critically assesses the persistent objector doctrine and concludes that the doctrine's application to human rights should be restricted. Part II provides background on the persistent objector doctrine-its mechanics, its functional purposes, and its history. Part III provides background on human rights law. It discusses the inherent tension between human rights law's assumption of universality and the doctrine of persistent objector. Part IV analyzes the applicability of the persistent objector doctrine to international human rights law. It looks specifically at the doctrine's two primary functions: preserving the role of consent and promoting foreseeability. In its analysis, Part IV argues that neither of these two functions would be unduly jeopardized by restricting the doctrine's applicability in the human rights context. Thus, to preserve the universality of human rights law, application of the doctrine should be restricted. Accordingly, Part V proposes an alternative construction of the persistent objector doctrine, in which states may only invoke the doctrine as a defense against human rights violations when the ripeness of relevant customary international law is at issue.