Florida State University Journal of Transnational Law & Policy


Although, as Professor Bilder rightly observes, "[ijnternational human rights law is derived from a variety of sources and involves many kinds of materials, both international and national, it is to national law that one must look first to determine the scope and content of the human rights recognized and protected in any country. Domestic courts confronted with human rights claims initially refer to national constitutions, laws, decrees, regulations, court and administrative decisions, and policy pronouncements for relevant rules of decision. Increasingly, however, domestic courts also are taking international human rights law into account in deciding cases. The purpose of this Article is to describe and give some guidance as to their past and future use of such law. While international human rights law has had considerable impact in the courts of other countries, principally but not exclusively in Europe, the focus of this Article will be on the principles and rules governing cases in federal and state courts of the United States, since U.S. courts in recent years have been in the forefront of developments in this area. Moreover, the problems raised in U.S. cases are generally representative of the problems courts face in many other countries. Indeed, the courts of some Commonwealth countries, having already emulated the approach of U.S. courts, may in this last decade of the twentieth century take the lead in enforcing international human rights law, both conventional and customary and both directly and indirectly, on the national level.