The foundations of international human rights law: A sociological inquiry


  • Christopher Thornhill UFPE



This article is intended to provide a foundation for broader sociological analysis of the rise of international human rights law. It uses a historical-sociological approach to argue that the increasing importance of international human rights norms is not, as usually claimed, the result of normative agreements between actors and organizations located outside national societies, placing checks on the power of existing sovereign states. On the contrary, the emergence of international human rights regimes can be linked to formative processes embedded in national societies, and it reveals deep continuities with inner-societal patterns of institution building and state construction. Most notably, international human rights law, especially where it penetrates into domestic legal orders, helps to elevate the robustness and the autonomy of domestic political institutions, and it contributes in important ways to the stabilization of national states, within their own societies, as distinctively sovereign organizations.

Biografia do Autor

Christopher Thornhill, UFPE

  • 2013 – present University of Manchester. Professor of Law
  • 2006 – 2013 University of Glasgow. Professor of Politics