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Saint Louis University Law Journal



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human rights, internationalism, Harold Koh


Professor Harold Koh's thoughtful article, A United States Human Rights Policy for the 21st Century, 46 ST. Louis U. L.J. 293 (2002), ends with the observation that "globalization has both sinister and constructive faces."' Indeed, we live in a world that is increasingly interdependent. Even some of those opposed to the project of globalization ironically depend on the tools of globalization to undermine it. Consider the terrorists who hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001 and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of innocent civilians from many different nations. The terrorists used the Internet and other online technology to spread the message of hate underlying their plot, transnational money transfers to finance it, and commercial airlines to execute it. Rather than allow such sinister forms of interdependence to flourish without an effective counter-weight, U.S. human rights policy in the twenty-first century should be more fully engaged in shaping and participating in international institutions and legal regimes that promote constructive forms of global interdependence. However, the United States has disengaged from a number of critical efforts to promote rule of law through multilateral institutions and regimes. This disengagement is disturbing and can be criticized on both normative and instrumentalist grounds. In this Response, I first discuss a number of international initiatives in which U.S. participation was sought but rejected or resisted. Second, I discuss normative considerations concerning U.S. participation in international institutions. Finally, I turn to instrumentalist considerations concerning U.S. involvement in these institutions.