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New Realist critics of international law, like many international relations realists who came before, are taking aim at human rights for its hopeless legalism. These critics rely on a regulative model that narrowly conceives of human rights laws as potentially enforceable rules without teeth. The article defines and elaborates an alternative constitutive model of human rights law, which understands the role of law as being both constituted by, and generative of, political interactions. This understanding is superior to legalist and regulative models because it better describes a number of rights-related phenomena observed in the world.