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Massachusetts Medical Society




Speaking for the United States, Secretary of State Warren Christopher told the June 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna that human rights are universal and that “we cannot let cultural relativism become the last refuge of repression”. The universality of human rights was first recognized internationally in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. But the fact that these rights are recognized and even seen as universal does not ensure that they will be respected, even by their strongest supporters. The lack of an international tribunal with jurisdiction to hear complaints about human-rights violations and provide remedies for them means that international codes of human rights continue to be ethical statements more than legal ones.


From The New England Journal of Medicine, George J. Annas, Detention of HIV-Positive Haitians at Guantanamo, Volume 329, Page 589 Copyright ©(1993) Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.

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