Preamble section 1:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Concepts and Ideas

  1. Concepts and Ideas (1)
  2. Concepts and Ideas (2)

Foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world

The third grouping of key concepts tells us that the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of all humans are the "foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world." These words clearly echoe the purposes of the United Nations, as asserted in the preamble of the United Nations Charter, namely

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined … to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, … and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security…”

But what do the words freedom, justice and peace signify more specifically?

“Freedom” means personal liberty, but also exemption from arbitrary, despotic, or autocratic control as well as independence and civil liberty. The word bears clear reference to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms Speech". The idea of human rights was heralded in this speech as rights of all people everywhere (Human Rights, 274).

The word "justice" means conformity (of an action or thing) to moral right, or to reason, truth, or fact; rightfulness, as well as fairness; correctness; and propriety. Since we are not told what conception of justice is reflected in human rights, we can perhaps obtain a stronger sense of the word by turning to modern rights-based theories of justice such as that posited by John Rawls. Rawls is perhaps the most influential moral and political philosopher of the second half of the 20th Century. In his Theory of Justice, Rawls uses the language of rights to articulate his two basic principles of justice. In particular, he identifies certain liberties that must be respected in a just society. In addition, his second principle of justice, the "difference principle," implies that individuals have certain rights to economic equality, and that such rights are as fundamental as basic liberties (Human Rights, 78).

“Peace,” in turn signifies freedom from, or cessation of, war or hostilities; or that condition of a nation or community in which it is not at war with another. Immanuel Kant, offered a programmatic formula for peace in his theory of Perpetual Peace (1795,) which has made a subtle, rich and lasting contribution both to the theory of international law and to the causes of justice and peace. The legal scholar Fernando Téson provides a contemporary interpretation of the Kantian thesis in his book A Philosophy of International Law. First, Téson asserts, the theory suggests the creation of compulsory judicial mechanisms to settle controversies arising from the three Definite Articles: an International Court of Human Rights; an International Court of Justice; and an International Court of Trade. Second, the Kantian theory necessitates amendment of the conditions of admission and permanence in the United Nations. Articles 4 and 6 of the UN Charter should thus be amended to include the requirement that only democratic governments that respect human rights should be allowed to represent members and that only democratic states will be accepted as new members. Third, the law of treaties must undergo important changes. Representatives of dictators must be disenfranchised for the purposes of expressing the state's consent to be bound by a treaty. Fourth, the law of diplomatic relations should be amended to deny diplomatic status to representatives of illegitimate governments. Finally the law of recognition should prohibit recognition of illegitimate government (Téson, 23).

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Peter Danchin, Columbia University