Prof. Barbara Stark’s Article on ‘Intercountry’ Human Rights to Appear in Indiana Law Journal

Barbara Stark, Professor of Law

The article “Toward a Theory of Intercountry Human Rights: Global Capitalism and the Rise and Fall of Intercountry Adoption” by Professor Barbara Stark has been accepted for publication in the Indiana Law Journal.

Human rights, as set out in the International Bill of Rights roughly 40 years ago, have not lived up to their drafters’ hopes. Some argue that they have not come close. Even their champions recognize their limits. As Professor Philip Alston notes, “In absolute figures, never before have so many men, women, and children been subjugated, starved, or exterminated on the Earth.” The shortcomings of human rights law are often blamed on weak enforcement. Because nation-states resist restraints on their sovereignty, human rights law depends in large part on states policing themselves. On the international level, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) monitor and report on human rights violations, but they have no authority to sanction violators or compel remedies.

This Article proposes another mechanism for enforcement, an alternative to self-serving domestic policing and weak international bureaucracy. “Intercountry,” as opposed to “international,” human rights would apply to specific rights in specific contexts and be enforceable through the legal mechanisms and other resources of the states that accepted them. The Article considers this proposal in the context of intercountry adoption.