The United Nations has long been an advocate of human rights. In 1948, just three years after the UN Charter was signed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and remains the foundation of international human rights to this day. In recent years, the UN's human rights agenda has led to the development of the concept of human security to achieve "freedom from fear" and "freedom from want." The idea of human security, expanded by the Commission on Human Security , encompasses all human rights, including civil and political rights, which protect people, and economic, social and cultural rights, which empower people. The new framework centers directly and specifically on people to remedy states' failure to fulfill their security obligations. By enhancing human rights, human security seeks to protect people from a broad range of threats posed by individuals and communities. By strengthening human development, human security seeks to empower them to act on their own behalf.
Coupled with the growth of human security measures is the ever-expanding role of international court systems, particularly as it concerns human rights. The international community has long wrestled with the question of how to make international law enforceable. In an attempt to solve this problem, the UN and other international organizations (including the European Union) have created various international courts whereby they can hold human rights violators and other offenders of international agreements accountable for their actions.
These court systems, however, raise important questions regarding national sovereignty. Often, they display disturbing trends of judicial activism as they attempt to use their decisions to create or define rights or “laws” that have not yet been agreed upon by the international community. Further, many international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are attempting to use international law and the court systems that enforce it to hold corporations and individuals accountable for violations, thereby circumventing the State governments to whom international law technically applies.
Additionally, domestic courts have increasingly turned to international law to aid in their decision-making. Indeed, the idea that international law should hold supremacy over national law is becoming more and more popular. These sorts of trends pose additional threats to national sovereignty, as they bypass normal democratic processes for deciding questions of law.
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