Human Rights Day was this past December 10th. Did you remember to celebrate? Chances are good that if you didn’t commit a crime against humanity, you were on the right path. However, if you want to go above and beyond just basic decency, and learn something in the process, Oxford University Press has produced a map of fifty landmark human rights cases for you to peruse. Each case is given a brief description and a link to a free article or report. The cases were selected by the editors of the Oxford Reports on International Law and the cases were chosen to highlight the sheer number of jurisdictions (national, regional, and international) available for bringing human rights claims as well as the range of claims that have been acknowledged.
The cases are an interesting mix of litigation arising from major historical events, like war, to more unexpected case law from Africa regarding investor’s rights or freedom of the press. Sometimes the cases involve what we might think of as “unattractive victims.” That is to say, it’s not just the downtrodden who can claim human rights protections but it is also those who do the treading. Human rights apply to everyone, not just the good guys. Finally, when looking at the map, one may expect to see pinpoints in locations where abuses occur and yet, the map is more a demonstration of where one can go to seek a legal process or remedy for abuse. Thus, there are places where abuses occur and no pins will be found.
Another Oxford service that we offer here at Georgetown which ties in very nicely with this map is the Consolidated Treaty Series. This series is the only comprehensive collection of treaties from 1648 through 1919 and it provides access, electronically, to scanned images and searchable full text. It also integrates with other Oxford publications such as international case law and commentary for a richer user experience.
The world isn’t always a nice place but we can take a minute to appreciate the rights we share as humans. In conjunction with Oxford University Press, we at the library are here to help you figure out what those rights are…and maybe also to remind you to hug a puppy or ten.