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Unpublished Paper
Consent and Self-Determination in Human Rights Lawmaking
ExpressO (2013)
  • Vijay Padmanabhan

A range of actors have advocated and implemented changes in how international human rights law is made and interpreted to reduce a State’s control over the content of its human rights obligations. Such efforts are premised on the view that State consent is an impediment to development of human rights. This article argues, however, that State consent is essential to the protection of the human right of self-determination, a right which guarantees people collective control over their political, economic, social and cultural development. Thus, efforts to expand international human rights without State consent themselves infringe upon a human right.

Because consent is essential to protecting the right to self-determination, efforts to limit State consent must be undertaken consistently with the traditional methodology for adjudicating rights competitions: proportionality analysis. Proportionality requires that limitations upon self-determination be based upon a human rights rationale that is proportionate to the restriction in question. Advocates for diminishing the role of State consent in human rights lawmaking have not conducted this analysis.

Proportionality analysis reveals that many current efforts in practice and scholarship to restrict the consent principle are difficult to reconcile with self-determination. This Article concludes by defending changes to current practice necessary to ensure self-determination is considered when evaluating changes to international human rights lawmaking and interpretation.

  • Consent,
  • Self-Determination,
  • Human Rights,
  • International Law
Publication Date
February 16, 2013
Citation Information
Vijay Padmanabhan. "Consent and Self-Determination in Human Rights Lawmaking" ExpressO (2013)
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