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Conference Proceeding

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Rather than criticizing the diverse judgments in Tel-Oren, I will concentrate on the lessons that may be learned from the case so that implementation of human rights can be enhanced. It has been difficult to establish human rights norms and even more difficult to create institutions for implementing them, for, to put it bluntly, effective institutions would not serve the interests of all of those currently managing the affairs of states. In some states, there is a strong popular demand for human rights, and it is reflected to a large degree in the behavior of government. In other states there is no such popular demand. In a distressingly large number of states, official power is maintained by the systematic abuse of what we refer to as human rights. A significant segment of the effective elites of the planet are not only not committed to human rights; they are positively threatened by them. Unfortunately, in the intricacies of contemporary international politics, relatively good governments believe they must sometimes rely upon and curry favor with unsavory ones. The international political costs of denouncing human rights violations become prohibitive, and they are criticized "discreetly" and "diplomatically" or ignored.

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