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International Human Rights in Action
The United Nations has been adapting its human rights machinery in order to better respond to the changing demands of the international community. During the cold war, the United Nations created the normative and institutional structures for international human rights protection, steadily broadening its competence in this area. At the same time, it supported the vast process of decolonization, which led to the birth of over 80 new independent nations. Landmark United Nations actions, such as the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960), provided the blueprint for universally establishing the collective right to self-determination. The United Nations also concentrated its efforts on the human rights abuses resulting from the policy of apartheid in South Africa, overseeing international action which eventually helped to end this gross abrogation of fundamental rights. Despite these successes, however, the effectiveness of the United Nations was severely restricted by the cold war, both in terms of the r…
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