Sixty-three years ago today, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, the concept of human rights has come to permeate every aspect of international relations, including the internal behavior of most states and the business practices of many multinational corporations. International human rights law has grown slowly but steadily and is now being enforced not only in the courts of many states but in international or mixed courts from The Hague to Arusha, Tanzania and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Corrupt and brutal dictators have been overthrown--and in some cases put on trial--in the name of human rights.
While many wrongs in the world remain to be righted, the concept of human rights gives us more hope for improving the human condition than we have ever had reason to feel before. There are many rights-abusing regimes still to be eliminated, but they can no longer count on the support of international law or, by and large, other governments. And when the United States departs from the standards established in international human rights law--when it departs, that is, from its own highest ideals--there are others beyond our borders who can, and will, offer correction. That, too, is a good thing