Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal - download pdf or read online

By Roger Normand

Human rights activists Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi supply a large political historical past of the emergence and improvement of the human rights circulation in the twentieth century throughout the crucible of the United countries, concentrating on the hopes and expectancies, concrete strength struggles, nationwide rivalries, and bureaucratic politics that molded the overseas approach of human rights legislations. The ebook emphasizes the interval prior to and after the production of the UN, whilst human rights principles and recommendations have been formed and reworked through the hard-edged realities of energy politics and bureaucratic imperatives. It additionally analyzes the growth of the human rights framework in accordance with calls for for equitable improvement after decolonization and arranged efforts through ladies, minorities, and different deprived teams to safe overseas popularity in their rights.

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Extra info for Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice (United Nations Intellectual History Project)

Example text

The proclamation of universal human rights cannot erase, in one fell swoop, the hierarchies and divisions of power reflected in nation, class, race, and all other categories that separate humanity. Given the inevitable (mis)use of human rights to advance particular agendas, the question becomes whether human rights mechanisms reconcile or aggravate such divisions. Do they reflect the interests of the dominant categories (whether state, class, or race) or of the international community as a whole?

To avoid this potential subversion, states supported human rights as rhetorical ideals without accompanying means of enforcement. The much-denounced split between introduction 17 principles and practice is not an accident of history; it lies at the very heart of the UN human rights system as designed by state powers. The main characteristics we attribute to human rights—recognition in law and politics, radical universality, primacy of the individual—are those that were expressly asserted during the establishment of human rights at the United Nations.

The theory of impartiality is belied by the absence of consistently applied legal mechanisms interpreted and enforced by objective decision makers. Instead, human rights rely for their impact on media attention, public outrage, and, especially, the sponsorship of powerful states. The latter have always deployed human rights in a selective, self-serving manner, underscoring the geopolitical nature of an ideology premised on universalism. Apart from inconsistent application, it is often said that the Achilles heel of human rights lies in the persistence of gross abuses of human dignity throughout the world.

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