Nelson Mandela reminded a joint session of the United States Congress in 1990 that "[tlo deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.' Human rights law is a subset of international law designed to protect certain fundamental rights of individuals and of ethnic, religious, racial, and national minorities within states. It also encompasses the rights of peoples to self-determination. Since World War II the major world powers have acknowledged that these universal principles of human rights must be accepted as binding on all states, because the domestic laws that protect the rights of "insiders" often fail to protect those regarded as "Other" within the polity. The colonial legacy of the arbitrary imposition of state boundaries upon indigenous nations in almost every part of the world makes international human rights law particularly important .

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