Legal Value of the Universal

Article 38 of the International Court of Justice indicates that courts have the function of deciding which disputes can be solved by referring to international conventions implying that international conventions have legal value in the nation-states that are party to it (ICJ). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights being one of such international conventions derives its legal status from this article thus obtaining the legal value.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a very significant convention since it protects the very existence of mankind which is vital to the development and prosperity of any state. Despite this significance its legal value was debatable due to the fight for superpower status and further debates have come up due to the difference in religious and cultural beliefs and the declaration has received criticism from groups such as the Muslim community who felt that the context of Muslim countries was not considered.

A section of its articles such as that advocating for the right to education has received criticisms with claims that this violates an individuals right to do what interests them. Nevertheless, the inherent nature of human rights has enough weight to give it the legal value not only to mankind but to the law of state as well.


Bernstorff, J.

, (2008). The changing fortunes of the universal declaration of human rights:

Genesis and symbolic dimensions of the turn to rights in international law. The European Journal of International Law, 19(5):903-924.

Faiz, P.M., (2007). The International Court of Justice, Law Journal retrieved on October 1, 2010


International Court of Justice (n.d.), Statute of the court, accessed on October 1, 2010 from the ICJ web site

Kennedy, D., (2002). The International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem?”

Harvard Human Rights Journal 15 (spring): 101 — 25.

United Nations (2010), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accessed on October 1,

2010 from the UN web site

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