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On the Spirit of Rights$
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Dan Edelstein

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226588988

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226589039.001.0001

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Conclusion: A Stand-in for the Universal Declaration, 1789–1948

Conclusion: A Stand-in for the Universal Declaration, 1789–1948

(p.194) VIII Conclusion: A Stand-in for the Universal Declaration, 1789–1948
On the Spirit of Rights

Dan Edelstein

University of Chicago Press

From the perspective of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the French Declaration of 1789 seemed like the foundation of a new international doctrine. Its principles would be echoed, often verbatim, in the many constitutions drafted during the first half of the nineteenth century, in Spanish America and throughout Europe; and it served as the model for international jurists, for a future, more complete international declaration of rights, which would include social and economic rights as well as political ones. This account of the Declaration’s legacy contrasts with a popular view that credits the Catholic Church with leading the push for an international declaration. But this account rests on the false assumption that the Church had been opposed to human rights until the 1930’s, and it excessively downplays the role of international lawyers and legal associations in leading the push for an international declaration.

Keywords:   constitutions, comparative constitutionalism, Christian human rights, Ligue des droits de l'homme, Cassin, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Catholic Church

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