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Article

Abstract

An important undercurrent in Michael Reisman's work in international human rights law is the law's utilitarian nature. True to the New Haven School, he conceives of human rights not as self-evident and eternal metaphysical truths but as part of the international community's program of promoting shared, fundamental values in the face of fractious opposition by those uncommitted to humanitarianism. And these values center primarily on human life and happiness, or in his felicitous phrasing: "[T]he international human rights program, when stripped of its own more recent mystical overlay, is based on the notion that, in a crunch, human beings and not states matter."' The mystical overlay includes a certain reification of human rights that, while useful in advocacy, sometimes obscures the exceptionally mutable nature of many human rights.

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