Dorothy Thomas

Recent Articles

Into the Bright Sunshine

The most obvious value of human rights to the post-Holocaust world has been to set a limit on government power and shine a light on its abuses. The limit comes from the revolutionary idea, conceived in the immediate aftermath of World War II, that all governments are constrained in their actions by the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of their people. The light comes from the people themselves, who have since risen up the world over to defend the fundamental principle that national sovereignty can never be a defense for barbarity and to demand accountability from those who violate this cardinal rule. “Save us from ourselves,” Eleanor Roosevelt said as she presided over the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, “and show us a vision of a world made new.” The value of this new vision of a world governed by human rights has been less obvious to one of its original proponents: the United States. As Harold Koh points out in this special...