Louis Henkin

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The international human rights movement was still in its infancy when the Cold War broke out, and it has lived almost all of its years under the heavy shadow of that war. In those circumstances, and in less than half a century, international human rights have enjoyed an astounding success: the human rights idea is established beyond challenge; the world has accepted an excellent bill of human rights. But resistance built into the international political system, and aggravated by the Cold War and other ideological tensions, has left some defects in human rights standards and appalling deficiencies in the means for implementing them. In this post-Cold War era, the international community should fill normative lacunae and repair normative defects. Above all it must move boldly towards an effective monitoring and enforcement system and take big steps in cultivating a human rights "culture." Important progress in these respects will require commitment and energetic leadership by the United States.

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