Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

I have spent most of my life as a human rights thinker and advocate. My outlook on the human rights project has often been contradictory, but for a reason. I am both sympathetic and critical. This is a paradox to most, although not to me. There are aspects of the human rights corpus—and its movement—that are deeply seductive. But there are others that are completely repulsive. I feel that I am simultaneously both an outsider and an insider. The human rights project is an uneasy political home to those...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This book has been a labor of love. So long as I can remember, I have thought and written about the character of the human rights corpus. I have been particularly vexed by, and interested in, the cultural and philosophical orientation of the official human rights corpus. Almost as important, I have been fascinated by the construction of human rights discourse, and its language. It is a powerful and seductive idiom. That is why after writing, teaching, and speaking as both a critiquer and an advocate of human rights,...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Over the last several decades, the thinking among human rights scholars, states, and activists has been that international action on human rights should move from setting legal standards, or norms, to implementing existing standards. The usefulness of some new standards has been questioned, and there seems to be a growing disenchantment with the push for new standards. At its simplest, the issue is that treaty making in the area of human rights has, in some ways, become complicated and that, even in cases where...

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Chapter One: Norm Setting in International Law and Human Rights

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pp. 9-22

Human rights advocates and those who seek an elaborate and effective human rights system confront an apparent slowing down of the traditional standard-setting forums and processes. Human rights standards were set at a torrid pace from the 1950s through the 1980s, but since then, the clip at which new standards have been made has considerably slowed. This is partly because most, though by no means all, basic rights have been recognized. But there are other reasons why norm setting has slowed and become harder. For one, more actors complicate the negotiating process. What does this...

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Chapter Two: The Process of Standard Setting in Human Rights

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pp. 23-72

Standard setting in human rights has been a contentious and complicated business since the dawn of the human rights movement more than sixty-five years ago. Never an easy task, standard setting is complicated by a factor of multiples when it concerns the regulation of the relationship between the state and the citizen and, in particular, the limitation of state power and reach versus the individual. States have traditionally viewed their power and authority over citizens as largely unlimited, which is why efforts to curb state power and impose red lines about what the state can and cannot do...

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Chapter Three: The Multiplication of Actors

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pp. 73-82

The world that emerged immediately after World War II is virtually unrecognizable from the vantage of today. Direct colonial rule has virtually ended. Two notable exceptions are Western Sahara, with Morocco in charge, and Palestine, which Israel continues to occupy and control. New states have multiplied to a total that stands at 193 with the vote by the UN General Assembly to admit newly independent South Sudan on July 14, 2011.1 That is a remarkable change, given that at the founding of the UN in 1945, there were just over fifty states. This transformative change in numbers has...

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Chapter Four: The Role of Ngos in the Creation of Norms

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pp. 83-110

Apart from states, no other stakeholders have been as important as NGOs, particularly the large and well-resourced ones based in the West, in the business of standard setting in human rights. Initially a very small cadre, the number of civil society organizations has exploded over the last thirty years. The corridors of the high councils where norms are set and human rights implementation mechanisms are created teem with NGOs and their members. While the formal writing and adoption of human rights standards...

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Chapter Five: The Question of Deficits

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pp. 111-138

The human rights movement is ubiquitous today. It has spread horizontally— across regions—and vertically—from the smallest unit in society to the loftiest international forum. It is present in the boardrooms of the mightiest corporations and in the most desperate inner city or rural hamlet. Newspapers’ front pages are awash with human rights news. Global and regional conflicts are reported through a human rights lens. There is virtually no issue without a human rights dimension or angle. There is no modern language...

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Chapter Six: New and Emerging Standards

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pp. 139-164

Though it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the vocabulary of human rights, such language has not always been part of governmental or civilian rhetoric. Human rights discourse burst on the world scene about sixty years ago, although the norms and philosophies on which it is based are as old as humanity itself. IGOs, NGOs, and states have spent most of that time establishing a normative framework—most of it legal—for the human rights movement. That normative framework has defined the content...

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Chapter Seven: A Normative Critique of Human Rights

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pp. 165-184

To the transformational human rights thinker and advocate, the official human rights project—anchored in the United Nations—can be a paradox. The official, traditional human rights thinking, which is steeped in liberalism, appears designed to protect the status quo and, as such, hardly acts as a medium of liberation. In its global order states sit at the center of global governance, and the elites who control them ultimately decide what standards are set and how they will be enforced. At the pinnacle of this...

Notes

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pp. 185-216

Bibliography

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pp. 217-238

Index

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pp. 239-244

Back Cover

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