The Invention of a Human Right: Conscientious Objection at the United Nations, 1947-2011
The right of conscientious objection to military service is the most startling of human rights. While human rights generally seek to protect individuals from state power, the right of conscientious objection radically alters the citizen-state relationship, subordinating a state’s decisions about national security to the beliefs of the individual citizen. In a world of nation-states jealous of their sovereignty, how did the human right of conscientious objection become an international legal doctrine? By answering that question, this Article both clarifies the legal pedigree of the human right of conscientious objection and sheds new light on the relationship between international human rights law and national sovereignty.