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43 Hastings L.J. 1425 (1991-1992)
Balancing Ethical Imperatives and Political Constraints: The Dilemma of New Democracies Confronting Past Human Rights Violations

handle is hein.journals/hastlj43 and id is 1461 raw text is: The Mathew 0. Tobriner Memorial Lecture
Balancing Ethical Imperatives and Political
Constraints: The Dilemma of New
Democracies Confronting Past
Human Rights Violations*
Forty-three years have passed since the proclamation of the Univer-
sal Declaration of Human Rights and thirty years since the founding of
Amnesty International. Fifteen years ago, President Carter announced
that human rights would be one of the cornerstones of his administra-
tion's foreign policy. Only yesterday, most of Latin America was under
military rule. As we gather here today, the effects of the political events
that led to the thunderous tumbling of the Berlin Wall continue to be
played out dramatically.
These milestones are of dissimilar character and consequence. Nev-
ertheless, each marks a new phase in the steady progression of the human
rights cause. Although its roots are ancient, the human rights cause en-
tered the international arena only after the Second World War. Initially,
human rights concerns were confined to the United Nations and other
intergovernmental forums. During the 1960s, human rights began to be
*  This lecture was presented at Hastings College of the Law on October 15, 1991. The
Mathew 0. Tobriner Memorial Lecture, in honor of Justice Mathew Tobriner of the Supreme
Court of California, was established by close friends and relatives of the Justice to serve as a
permanent memorial to him and his life's work. Justice Tobriner said: In the context of law,
the underlying moral value of our American society, I think, is the protection of the individual
citizen for the purpose, and in hope, that he may reach his greatest fulfillment and self-
realization as a person.
** Chairperson, International Human Rights Internship Program; Fellow, MacArthur
Foundation, 1990-1995; Member, International Commission of Jurists. J.D. 1967, summa
cum laude, University of Chile. The author wishes to express his sincere thanks to the
Mathew 0. Tobriner Memorial Committee for inviting him to deliver this lecture, part of a
series of lectures that commemorates Justice Tobriner's outstanding example in the pursuit of
the highest ideals of the legal profession.


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