Rights and justice in international relations
Rights and justice in international relations

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Rights and justice in international relations

2 The United Nations settlement

2.1 Background to the idea of international rights

The UN Charter and the Declaration form part of a post-Second World War international settlement which established, on the one side, the formal legitimating ideology of the international system, national self-determination and sovereign equality and, on the other, the ideology of universal human rights. The appeal of this set of claims was the hope that different peoples could live together in peace and security. It was an attempt to accommodate difference (through the idea of national self-determination) within a common framework (of the sovereign equality of states and universal human rights). The UN Declaration also helped to foster a new understanding of the international order, that is, of the power politics of nation states tempered by a rights agenda. One of the things that lay behind this development was the distinctive view of an international order governed by justice. Rather than being based on competing national self-interests or another moral value such as charity, rights advocates contended that international relations should be conducted on the basis of principles of justice.

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