The concept of State sovereignty is a fundamental rule of public international law and is firmly laid down in Article 2(1) of the United Nations Charter. The nature of the traditional concept of State sovereignty is changing. Sovereignty is no longer considered to be absolute, in the sense that the State has unlimited power to govern people and territory. This is an on-going process, with multi-faceted human rights dimensions.
The shifting relation between the promotion and protection of human rights and sovereignty can best be observed in the following three contexts. First, in the context of international organisations: by becoming members of international organisations, such as the United Nations and the European Union, States accept that these institutions can take decisions on which they no longer have a decisive influence. Second, by allowing monitoring by regional and international (quasi-) judicial institutions, States accept that individuals can turn to international bodies, such as committees and courts, that have jurisdiction on human rights issues. In the case of the regional human rights courts, States are under an obligation to give effect to the judgement rendered. Third, in the area of conflict and foreign intervention, there is a tendency to accept infringement on national sovereignty in order to protect individuals against grave human rights violations. These three angles constitute the subthemes of this collection of essays in honour of Cees Flinterman on the occasion of his retirement on 1 September 2007 as director of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights and the School of Human Rights Research.
This volume is the result of a project within one of the research programmes of the Utrecht University School of Law, entitled ‘Human rights in a world of conflict and diversity’
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