That international law imposes duties and liabilities upon individuals as well as upon States has long been recognised.Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced." (International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg (1946), 41 AJIL (1947) 172.)
The universal condemnation of state-sponsored repression is due in large part to the globalized ideal of human rights, (Steiner & Alston, 2000) where we see a whittling down of the concept of sovereignty in favor of the acceptance of international norms of human rights. Indeed, the protection of human rights is one of the fundamental aspirations of international law To quote from Hersch Lauterpacht, in his article International Law and Human Rights (1950),
An international legal system which aims at effectively safeguarding human freedom in all its aspects is no longer an abstraction. It is as real as man's interest in the guarantee and the preservation of his inalienable rights as a rational and moral being. International law, which has excelled in punctilious insistence on the respect owed by one sovereign State to another, henceforth acknowledges the sovereignty of man. For fundamental human rights are superior to the law of the sovereign State.
In international law, the primacy of the State is the core principle of the international legal regime as it is traditionally known. ...