Human Rights, Democracy, and the Inescapability of Politics; Or, Human Dignity Thick and Thin

By Yehudah Mirsky

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005

The essay places the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel's security wall in a broader legal and political context and argues that the failure to distinguish between democratic and non-democratic regimes characterizing the ICJ advisory opinion reflects broader trends with potentially ruinous consequences for the enterprise of human rights promotion itself. The ICJ opinion's willful ignoring of Israel's democratic character yielded a tendentious and inconsistent ruling as the piece explains. The piece asserts that by contrast the Israel High Court of Justice's decision invalidating portions of Israel's security wall reflects a healthy understanding of a democracy's needs and limitations, as reflected in that court's proportionality standard of review. The essay lays out one basic, hopefully workable, conceptual division of labor between human rights and democracy as complementary elements of a broader project of human dignity, in which human rights represents a "thin" universal conception of human dignity, while democracy offers a process whereby that conception can be "thickened" in various political, social and cultural contexts around the globe.

Topic: Human Rights, Democracy, Policy, Law, Security

Name of Publication: Israel Law Review

Volume/Issue: Vol.38/No.1-2

Page Number(s): 358-377

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Israel

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Mirsky, Yehudah. Human Rights, Democracy, and the Inescapability of Politics; Or, Human Dignity Thick and Thin. Israel Law Review. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 2005: 358-377.


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