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Perspectives for an International Law of Human Dignity, 1959 Proceedings of the American Society for International Law 107 (1959)


By an international law of human dignity I mean the processes of authoritative decision of a world public order in which values are shaped and shared more by persuasion than coercion, and which seeks to promote the greatest production and widest possible sharing, without discriminations irrelevant to merit, of all values among all human beings. It is familiar lmowledge, perhaps already made even more familiar by prior speakers, that the contemporary world arena exhibits no such international law or public order, effectively applied on a global scale. What we have instead is rather a variety of "international" laws and an anarchy of diverse, contending orders—orders proclaiming and embodying the values of human dignity in very different degree, and aspiring to application and completion on many different scales of international, regional, and global compass. The overriding struggle for most comprehensive completion is, of course, between the totalitarian orders, which explicitly demand the employment of force as an instrument of expansion and postulate the monopolization rather' than wide sharing of many important values, and the non-totalitarian orders, with a dominant democratic core, which authorize the use of force' only for conservation of values and postulate the wide sharing of all values: in freedom, safety, and abundance. The unprecedented stakes in this struggle, given the destructiveness of modern weapons, are commonly considered to extend beyond the values of human dignity, even to the continued habitability of the earth and existence of man.

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