Human rights activists Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi provide a broad political history of the emergence and development of the human rights movement in the 20th century through the crucible of the United Nations, focusing on the hopes and expectations, concrete power struggles, national rivalries, and bureaucratic politics that molded the international system of human rights law. The book emphasizes the period before and after the creation of the UN, when human rights ideas and proposals were shaped and transformed by the hard-edged realities of power politics and bureaucratic imperatives. It also analyzes the expansion of the human rights framework in response to demands for equitable development after decolonization and organized efforts by women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups to secure international recognition of their rights.
Series Editors' Foreword by Louis Emmerij, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss
Foreword by Richard A. Falk
List of Abbreviations
Part 1. Human Rights Foundations in the First Half of the Twentieth Century
1. First Expressions of International Human Rights Ideas
2. The Decline of Human Rights between World Wars
3. The Human Rights Crusade in World War II
4. Human Rights Politics in the United Nations Charter
Part 2. UN Negotiations and the Modern Human Rights Framework
5. Laying the Human Rights Foundation
6. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
7. The Covenants
Part 3. The Impact of Civil Society and Decolonization
8. The Human Rights of Special Groups
9. The Right to Development
10. Looking at Human Rights since 1990 and in the Future
About the Authors
About the United Nations Intellectual History Project
"All who care about human rights need to carefully ponder the challenges that the authors present."
from the foreword by Louis Emmerij
Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss
"Expert and rigorous in methodology, engaging in style, pragmatic yet principled and visionary, this indispensable book is accessible to students, activists, scholars, and practitioners. We all need to understand how and why this system came to be the way it is today if we are to re—appropriate its humane vision and re—enact its humanizing power. —Abdullahi Ahmed A"
Emory University School of Law
"International human rights law is based primarily on Western values and jurisprudence, but strong challenges from Asia and Africa have stimulated a lively debate over the issue. Thankfully, the current cultural gap has been bridged successfully by the team of Normand (Lahore Univ., Pakistan) and Zaidi (Center for Economic and Social Rights), who have produced an illuminating intellectual fusion.... Recommended.October 2008"
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden
"... Normand and Zaidi have presented a quite readable account of the history of the UN human rights system, mostly providing a perspective on power relations....January 2009"
"... Zaidi and Normand, both human rights advocates for many years, have prepared a quite critical, readable and highly interesting book... January 2009"
"Overall, this volume is extremely well written, organized, and researched, and provides a comprehensive understanding of the development of human rights at the United Nations. September, 2009"
H-NET Reviews Humanities & Social Sciences
International human rights law is based primarily on Western values and jurisprudence, but strong challenges from Asia and Africa have stimulated a lively debate over the issue. Thankfully, the current cultural gap has been bridged successfully by the team of Normand (Lahore Univ., Pakistan) and Zaidi (Center for Economic and Social Rights), who have produced an illuminating intellectual fusion. The authors carefully examine the historical background prior to WW II, and then distinguish between group and individual rights in the development of UN principles and covenants. They stress the lack of enforcement mechanisms, but praise the UN for giving birth to "the modern human rights regime." Not surprisingly, they blame the Cold War for the evident defects as the US and USSR were both reluctant to accept limitations on sovereignty. The end of the Cold War helped further the UN human rights agenda, but it still "remained dependent on voluntary state compliance with soft norms and policy targets." Normand and Zaidi are strongly critical of recent US policy, thus the latter sections of the book are increasingly polemical, but the authors do clearly announce that they are "human rights activists," not just scholars. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and up.
A. Klinghoffer, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden