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Hofstra Law Review

Abstract

Professor Sohn is the quintessential charterist. He views the world legal order, at least as it pertains to human rights, as being a centralized structure with the United Nations Charter as its base. "The Charter is the cornerstone of international jus cogens, and its provisions prevail over all other international and domestic legislative acts." According to Sohn, the Charter creates a variety of human rights norms and authorizes their implementation and enforcement through various United Nations organs: "These provisions express clearly the obligations of all members and the powers of the organization in the field of human rights. While the provisions are general, nevertheless they have the force of positive international law and create basic duties which all members must fulfil in good faith. Moreover, any concern one might have about the generality of the Charter provisions is resolved by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, Sohn concludes, "not only constitutes an authoritative interpretation of the Charter obligations but also a binding instrument in its own right, representing the consensus of the international community on the human rights which each of its members must respect, promote and observe."' Finally, in order to resolve any lingering doubt as to the reality of his claims, Sohn informs us that "[t]he practice of the United Nations confirms this conclusion, citing as evidence various resolutions of the United Nations condemning human rights violations. ...

Professor McDougalF shares, at least in part, Professor Sohn's optimistic view of the status of human rights within the world legal order. He claims that there presently exists

an immense body of prescriptions-beginning with the United Nations Charter and extending through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the two major international covenants and numerous more specialized and ancillary formulations-which have taken on both the substance and form of the basic bills of rights long established and maintained in national communities.

These prescriptions, according to McDougal, await only the perfection of institutions and procedures for implementation: "The structures and procedures for applying and sanctioning these human rights prescriptions, as for other prescriptions, remain imperfect, but continuous improvement is being made in such structures and procedures ....

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