The introduction of the Human Rights Act has led to an explosion in books on human rights, yet no sustained examination of their history and philosophy exists in the burgeoning literature. At the same time, while human rights have triumphed on the world stage as the ideology of postmodernity, our age has witnessed more violations of human rights than any previous, less enlightened one. This book fills the historical and theoretical gap and explores the powerful promises and disturbing paradoxes of human rights. Divided in two parts and fourteen chapters, the book offers first an alternative history of natural law, in which natural rights represent the eternal human struggle to resist domination and oppression and to fight for a society in which people are no longer degraded or despised. At the time of their birth, in the 18th century, and again in the popular uprisings of the last decade, human rights became the dominant critique of the conservatism of law. But the radical energy, symbolic value and apparently endless expansive potential of rights has led to their adoption both by governments wishing to justify their policies on moral grounds and by individuals fighting for the public recognition of private desires and has undermined their ends. Part Two examines the philosophical logic of rights. Rights, the most liberal of institutions, has been largely misunderstood by established political philosophy and jurisprudence as a result of their cognitive limitations and ethically impoverished views of the individual subject and of the social bond. The liberal approaches of Hobbes, Locke and Kant are juxtaposed to the classical critiques of the concept of human rights by Burke, Hegel and Marx. The philosophies of Heidegger, Strauss, Arendt and Sartre are used to deconstruct the concept of the (legal) subject. Semiotics and psychoanalysis help explore the catastrophic consequences of both universalists and cultural relativists when they become convinced about their correctness. Finally, through a consideration of the ethics of otherness, and with reference to recent human rights violations, it is argued that the end of human rights is to judge law and politics from a position of moral transcendence. This is a comprehensive historical and theoretical examination of the discourse and practice of human rights. Using examples from recent moral foreign policies in Iraq, Rwanda and Kosovo, Douzinas radically argues that the defensive and emancipatory role of human rights will come to an end if we do not re-invent their utopian ideal.
Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention
Author: Alfred William Brian Simpson
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
Category: Political Science
The European Convention on Human Rights, which came into force in 1953 after signature, in 1950, established the most effective system for the international protection of human rights which has yet conme into existence anywhere in the world. Since the collapse of communism it has come to be extended to the countries of central and eastern Europe, and some seven hundred million people now, at least in principle, live under its protection. It remains far and away the most significant achievement of the Council of Europe, which was established in 1949, and was the first product of the postwar movement for European integration. It has now at last been incorporated into British domestic law. Nothing remotely resembling the surrender of sovereignty required by accession to the Convention had ever previously been accepted by governments. There exists no published account which relates the signature and ratification of the Convention to the political history of the period, or which gives an account of the processes of negotiation which produced it. This book, which is based on extensive use of archival material, therefore breaks entirely new ground. The British government, working through the Foreign Office, played a central role in the postwar human rights movement, first of all in the United Nations, and then in the Council of Europe; the context in which the negotiations took place was affected both by the cold war and by conflicts with the anti-colonial movement, aswell as by serious conflicts within the British governmental machine. The book tells the story of the Convention up to 1966, the date at which British finally accepted the right of individual petition and the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. It explores in detail the significance of the Convention for Britain as a major colonial power in the declining years of Empire, and provides the first full account of the first cases brought under the Convention, which were initiatedby Greece against Britain over the insurrection in Cyprus in the 1950s. It also provides the first account based on archival materials of the use of the Convention in the independence constitutions of colonial territories.
What is a human right? How can we tell whether a proposed human right really is one? How do we establish the content of particular human rights, and how do we resolve conflicts between them? These are pressing questions for philosophers, political theorists, jurisprudents, international lawyers, and activists. James Griffin offers answers in his compelling new investigation of the foundations of human rights. First, On Human Rights traces the idea of a natural right from its origin in the late Middle Ages, when the rights were seen as deriving from natural laws, through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the original theological background was progressively dropped and 'natural law' emptied of most of its original meaning. By the end of the Enlightenment, the term 'human rights' (droits de l'homme) appeared, marking the purge of the theological background. But the Enlightenment, in putting nothing in its place, left us with an unsatisfactory, incomplete idea of a human right. Griffin shows how the language of human rights has become debased. There are scarcely any accepted criteria, either in the academic or the public sphere, for correct use of the term. He takes on the task of showing the way towards a determinate concept of human rights, based on their relation to the human status that we all share. He works from certain paradigm cases, such as freedom of expression and freedom of worship, to more disputed cases such as welfare rights - for instance the idea of a human right to health. His goal is a substantive account of human rights - an account with enough content to tell us whether proposed rights really are rights. Griffin emphasizes the practical as well as theoretical urgency of this goal: as the United Nations recognized in 1948 with its Universal Declaration, the idea of human rights has considerable power to improve the lot of humanity around the world. We can't do without the idea of human rights, and we need to get clear about it. It is our job now - the job of this book - to influence and develop the unsettled discourse of human rights so as to complete the incomplete idea.
Offers an examination of debates on multiculturalism, in the context of discussions on security, integration and human rights. This book explores the nature of a range of inter-related areas of public policy, including anti-terrorism, immigration, integration, community cohesion, equality and human rights, examining the Government's strategies.
International Responses Since the End of the Cold War
Author: Gillian Duncan
This book aims to improve understanding of the broad trends in the utilisation of political violence by examining the use of state terror in world politics. The ending of the Cold War and the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe led many to assume that this presaged the demise of the one-party terror regime and acceptance of Western concepts of democracy, freedom and human rights throughout the international system. But of course this did not end state terror. The totalitarian one-party state still exists in North Korea and China, and there are numerous military regimes and other forms of dictatorship where the use of terror techniques for internal control is routine. The late Professor Paul Wilkinson conceived and began this project with the intention of analysing the major types of international response to state terror, as well as their outcomes and their wider implications for the future of international relations. In keeping with this original premise, the contributors explore the history of terrorism, as well as reflecting on the need for international cooperation based on the protection of civilians and a consistent approach to intervention in conflict situations. This book will be of much interest to students of terrorism studies, political violence, human rights, genocide, and IR in general.
Two of the most pressing questions facing international historians today are how and why the Cold War ended. Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War explores how, in the aftermath of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, a transnational network of activists committed to human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe made the topic a central element in East-West diplomacy. As a result, human rights eventually became an important element of Cold War diplomacy and a central component of détente. Sarah B. Snyder demonstrates how this network influenced both Western and Eastern governments to pursue policies that fostered the rise of organized dissent in Eastern Europe, freedom of movement for East Germans and improved human rights practices in the Soviet Union - all factors in the end of the Cold War.
Scenes of violence and incisions into the flesh inform the demand for law. The scene of little girls being held down in practices of female circumcision has been a defining and definitive image that demands the attention of human rights, and the intervention of law. But the investment in protecting women and little girls from such a cut is not all that it seems. Law's Cut on the Body of Human Rights: Female Circumcision, Torture and Sacred Flesh considers how such images come to inform law and the investment of advocates of law in an imagination of this scene. Drawing on psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory, and accompanying ideas in political theology, Juliet Rogers examines the language, imagery and excitement that accompanies recent initiatives to legislate against what is called 'female genital mutilation'. The author compliments this examination with a consideration of the scene of torture exposed in images from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Rogers argues that the modes of fascination and excitement that accompany scenes of torture and female circumcision betray the fantasy of a political condition against which the subject of liberal law is imagined; this is subjectivity in a state of non-mutilation, non-prohibition or, in a psychoanalytic idiom, non-castration. To support the fantasy of this subject, the mutilated subject, the authors suggests, is rendered as flesh cut from the democratic nation state, deserving of only selective human rights, or none at all.
Actors and Issues in Contemporary Human Rights Politics
Author: Michaelene Cox
Category: Political Science
Providing an overview of institutional developments and innovations in human rights politics, this volume discusses some of the most important current and emerging human rights issues. It takes stock of the initiatives, policy responses and innovations of past years to identify some of the challenges that will likely require bold and innovative solutions. The contributors focus on actors and/or issues that are outside the mainstream of international human rights politics; the chapters address issues that have only emerged as an important part of the international human rights agenda and generated much advocacy, diplomacy and negotiations since the end of the Cold War. These issues include: the International Criminal Court, the norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and its human rights impact, truth commissions, and the rights of persons with disabilities. The contributions offer a direct challenge to entrenched notions of state sovereignty and represent a departure from established ways of policy making.