4 UCLA Women's L.J. 59 (1993-1994)
Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace

handle is hein.journals/uclawo4 and id is 67 raw text is: CRIMES OF WAR, CRIMES OF PEACE*

Catharine A. MacKinnon**
Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small
places, close to home ....
Eleanor Roosevelt
I.
In reality begins principle. The loftiest legal abstractions,
however strenuously empty of social specificity on the surface,
are born of social life: amid the intercourse of particular groups,
in the presumptive ease of the deciding classes, through the
trauma of specific atrocities, at the expense of the silent and ex-
cluded, as a victory (usually compromised, often pyrrhic) for the
powerless. Law does not grow by syllogistic compulsion; it is
pushed by the social logic of domination and challenge to domi-
nation, forged in the interaction of change and resistance to
change. It is not only in the common law that the life of the law
is experience, not logic.1 Behind all law is someone's story;
someone whose blood, if you read closely, leaks through the
lines. Text does not beget text; life does. The question - a ques-
tion of politics and history and therefore law - is whose experi-
ence grounds what law.
Human rights principles are based on experience, but not
that of women. It is not that women's human rights have not
been violated. When women are violated like men who are
* Excerpted from ON HUMAN RIGHTS: THE OXFORD AMNESTY
LECTURES 1993, edited by Stephen Shute and Susan Hurley. Copyright (c) 1993
by Basic Books and Catharine A. MacKinnon. Reprinted with permission of Basic
Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
** The help and contributions of Natalie Nenadic, Asja Armanda, Susanne
Baer, Jeffrey Masson, Jessica Neuwirth, Joan Fitzpatrick, Cass Sunstein, Andrea
Dworkin, Richard Rorty, Kent Harvey, and the wonderful staff at the University of
Michigan Law Library is gratefully acknowledged.
1. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, THE COMMON LAW 1 (1881). (The life of the
law has not been logic, it has been experience.).

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