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Article

Abstract

Regional human rights systems have become a principal means by which the international community attempts to promote human rights. The conventions on which they are based enunciate aspirational norms to encourage the evolution of human rights protection and to supply human rights tribunals with a set of minimum standards. These systems' effectiveness, however, depends upon member states' consent to the jurisdiction of the systems' tribunals. While negative publicity may influence a state to comply with an adverse judgment, a human rights court or commission can exert pressure on a state only at the risk of jeopardizing that state's voluntary support for the system and hence the cohesion of the system itself. Regional systems thus are caught in a tension between maintaining political unity and protecting individual rights.

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