This century finds the world convulsed and confused, with principles and a framework for world order, but with disorder, conflicts, terrorism, chaos, and rampant violations of human rights across the globe. Great masses of the world’s population live in misery. The international economic system favors the strong over the weak. The fear of terrorism stalks the world. After the decolonization successes of the twentieth century, many governments of the newly independent countries are particularly sensitive about perceived dangers of external interferences in their internal affairs. Many now insist that organizations such as the United Nations should engage in dialogue and cooperation, rather than criticize human rights violations. Powerful permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) also advocate this line.1 For example, this is the mantra at the HRC. Yet, without standing up for principle in the face of violations, without integrating respect for human rights in strategies for peace, development, and progress, it is difficult

to see how the international community can make headway in ameliorating the plight of humanity. The World Conference on Human Rights, held in 1993, recorded the

formal consensus of the international community on the priority of human rights in international cooperation and the legitimate role of the international community in protecting human rights. Nonetheless, this consensus has not yet found its way into actual practice. How can this be done? What is the way forward? The human rights idea can perform many vital roles in the world

community. Human rights should give meaning to the concept of world order. Governance must be grounded in human rights precepts. Peace and security should be defined and achieved through respect for human rights. Human rights provide the international framework of public policy for our global civilization. A globalizing world must be inspired by and respectful of international human rights norms. The responsibility to protect is a basic norm of contemporary international law. The principle of justice is given meaning by international human rights norms. The challenge of the twenty-first century is to realize the potential of the human rights idea in practice. This chapter examines these and related roles-potential and actual-of the human rights idea in the world community.