The law of peoples, human rights and minority rights: a study of legitimacy and international justice
Vaca Paniagua, Moises
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Severe poverty and ethnic-conflicts are the two most devastating problems of the contemporary world. Eighteen million persons die every year from causes related to poverty and a vast amount of developing countries suffer from tremendous processes of destabilization –frequently involving highly violent actions– associated to the relations between majority and minority groups. In both cases, the intervention of international powers and institutions has not been helpful enough to make a difference, and this present reality projects itself as a distressing scene for the future. Human rights and minority rights are the most powerful international tools in trying to change this sad global scenario. However, there is an extensive debate on the nature of these rights in a theory of international justice. This is often characterized as a debate between “minimalist” who seek to reduce the currently –recognized list of human rights to a bare minimum in order to accommodate non-liberal societies, and more expansive liberal approaches, which seek to expand the list of human rights to include the full set of civil and political rights characteristic of modern liberal-democracies. In this thesis, I will argue in favour of a third position. In line with some of the more minimalist approaches, I will argue that constraints of legitimacy rule out attempts to include full civil and political rights into our list of human rights. However, I will argue that these same constraints of legitimacy advocates for expanding the currently-recognized list of human rights in at least two key respects: the recognition of certain basic social and economic rights; and the recognition of certain minority rights. In short, we should be minimalist on some issues, while more expansive in others. In developing this argument, I will relay on the framework provided by The Law of Peoples of John Rawls.