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NYU Law's symposium "From Rights to Reality: Mobilizing for Human Rights and Its Intersection with International Law" has been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the role that international law has played in the furtherance of human rights around the world over the past six decades. It has also been a stimulating forum to assess the state of our knowledge, experience, and research relating to the development of human rights law and its application in various settings around the world. The scholars and practitioners participating in this symposium have each made remarkable contributions to the development, interpretation, and application of human rights law internationally, and I am very grateful that they have taken the time to engage the arguments and evidence in Mobilizing for Human Rights. The editors of the Journal of International Law and Politics are to be congratulated on a stimulating symposium and a valuable volume.
In this concluding article, I will describe what Mobilizing for Human Rights set out to do, what I think it did well, and what it did not, in the end, accomplish. There is much to mention on both scores. While the book was one of the first comprehensive efforts to theorize and test empirically the effects of international legal agreements on a broad range of rights indicators, the research necessarily fails to speak to some issues, raises additional questions, and opens up new avenues for empirical research. I will also engage the observations of my colleagues in the symposium, whose supportive as well as skeptical views I very much appreciate. I hope to make clearer how the research potentially connects with strategies for rights improvements. I conclude on a very humble note: the experience represented by the symposium participants far outstrips the scholarly findings of the book, but I am hopeful that discussion of the kind we have had leads both to better scholarship and broadly informed practice.