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human rights treaties, race relations, RUDs


The United States prides itself on being a champion of human rights and pressures other countries to improve their human rights practices, and yet appears less willing than other nations to embrace international human rights treaties. Many commentators attribute this phenomenon to the particular historical context that existed in the late 1940s and early 1950s when human rights treaties were first being developed. These commentators especially emphasize the race relations of the time, noting that some conservatives resisted the developing human rights regime because they saw it as an effort by the federal government to extend its authority to address racial segregation and discrimination in the South. As this essay explains, the guarded and qualified U.S. relationship with human rights treaties stems not only from a particular moment in history but also is a product of more enduring, and less obviously problematic, features of the U.S. constitutional system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Human rights, Race relations, Treaties--Reservations, Treaties