Essay about Realism and the Significance of the Human Rights Norm

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Realism and the Significance of the Human Rights Norm With rampant violation of the human rights norm, are norms relevant in international politics? What significance do they hold if they do not inform policy decisions? Can anything be done in order to strengthen the normative element of human rights protection on a large scale? Constructivists declare that norms, principles, regimes or ideas are important factors at play in the international system mitigating pure self-interest and power politics that dictate behavior, as per the dominant realist worldview. However, to what extent norms actually influence decision-making is the true test to the relevance of constructivist arguments. Are norms and ideas affecting state interests in…show more content…
Beyond the academic, rhetorical realist-constructivist distinction in this discussion of norms, there may be larger implications for the human rights movement and any notion of advancement it hopes to make. I will begin by taking a broad look at constructivist contributions by examining the role that norms are ideally supposed to take in international affairs; theoretically how these ideational variables are situated in the landscape of realism. From here I will plunge into the field of human rights protection, briefly trace its foundations and determine what position it holds today. Given an understanding of what norms should be and the changes that the human rights norm, specifically, aims at implementing, I will move to a thorough investigation into why states constantly and without remorse violate this international standard. This investigation will take the form of an evaluation within realism of material interests and the cost-benefit analysis associated with decision-making. It will be supplemented with a look at the successful, human rights-style norm of racial equality and, more specifically, the international movement to end South African apartheid. In terms of adding to the discourse of norms, I propose a deeper discussion of the internalization of norms and the necessary interaction between domestic and international politics in recognizing the potential for real change. Hopefully, this will provide
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