5.4.7.5 International Human Rights Protecting the Individual

International human rights can reach through national borders to protect individuals:

  • The European Court of Human Rights acts as a court of appeal which, as a condition of EU membership, can override rulings by national courts if necessary (5.3.5.4). It can also prevent the passing of new legislation that would overturn people’s human rights.
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is the UN body which performs a similar service on a global basis.
  • The Human Rights Committee of the UN can be asked to adjudicate – as in the case Lubicon Lake Band v. Canada, where a group of Cree Indians challenged the government’s expropriation of some of their tribal lands. Their complaint was upheld.
  • The Rome Statute uses human rights as the criteria by which it can be determined whether a national politician is oppressing a group of people, to enable the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute rights violations (5.3.6.2).

The ICC and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine (5.3.7) are both still evolving, and they require political consensus to become more mature, as discussed at the end of this book (9.5.3).

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