Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Gerson Smoger

First Page



The statement that the Commission on Human Rights "functions as the focal point of the United Nation's concentration on the international observance of human rights" is fraught with definitional inconsistencies. Throughout its existence one of the main problems faced by the members of the Commission has been to agree upon the appropriate limits of the expression "human rights." The question arises whether the term includes the right of a retired school teacher to speak out against his country's employment practices or his entitlement to receive social security after his departure from the teaching force. If these are both considered to be human rights, then which should the Commission on Human Rights, with its limited time and monetary resources, emphasize?

Does "international observance" connote merely an international forum for the discussion of human rights or an activist agency concerned with the enforcement of international standards? As the "focal point" is the Commission designed merely to serve as the nerve center for a multitude of United Nations human rights interests or should all UN human rights interests come under the actual supervision of the Commission?