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there’s a line in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (which isn’t worth looking up for present purposes), “His nature is too noble for the world.” Some people who regard themselves as “realists” seem to believe that the projects of international law and human rights are too noble—or too vapidly “idealistic”—for today’s international world. Yet the world has more international law, as well as far more talk of human rights, than it did a century ago. What role can international law and human rights talk play in today’s world—and what are the things that limit their force?

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