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Reviewed by:
  • Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action
  • Rebecca M.M. Wallace (bio)
Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action( Richard Pierre Claude & Burns H. Weston eds. Philadelphia, Penn.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 3d ed.2006) 568 pages ISBN 978-0-8122-1948-7 (paper).

The publication of this, the third edition of Human Rights in the World Community, is welcome and timely, as more than a decade has lapsed since publication of the previous edition. The intervening years have witnessed challenges to human rights, both with regard to the heinous violations perpetuated and the often repressive mechanisms initiated in response to such violations. The text is designed "to facilitate human rights education and to do so in support of the international resolves voiced in the [End Page 1129]2000 Millennium Declaration, according to which member states of the United Nations said they would spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law as well as respect for internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms." 1The assault on international civilization and the quest for a humane world order have served as a catalyst to give the text an additional role, namely that of helping to reinforce and spread anew the message of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). 2

The book emphasizes a holistic approach to the teaching of human rights and sets out materials for use in seminars in the traditional humanities, as well as international law and international relations. The format of the text reflects an acknowledged "broad distinction between issuesassociated with international human rights problems . . . and actionthat seeks to implement international human rights norms and standards." 3Four chapters are devoted to each of these broad subject areas. Each chapter contains a selection of essays and papers reflecting the views of academics and activists. The number of readings per chapter varies. In Part I, Chapters One and Four have four such references, whereas Chapters Two and Three have eight and six respectively. In Part II, the readings listed are considerably fewer, with three being the maximum and only two, somewhat surprisingly, being identified in Chapter Six, "International Approaches to Human Rights Implementation." This title is something of a misnomer, as it extends to regional protection. However, although there is a plethora of materials documenting regional human rights protection, most notably that which exists within Europe, the text remains underinclusive of the breadth of such materials. This perhaps is understandable in light of the strong US perspective, which is evident, for instance, in the questions posed for discussions.

The editors acknowledge that the readings have been extensively abridged and that they "have largely dispensed with distracting ellipses and bracketed editorializing [and] footnotes." 4In addition, each chapter is opened with an editors' introduction and each reading is followed with "Questions for Reflection and Discussion," designed to prod "new thinking, and stimulating fresh research beyond the scope of the existing literature," and is designed for the lay reader as well for the more conventional student. 5That said, the questions raised are extensive and wide ranging and demand reading beyond the materials provided. Indeed, explicit reference is made to other substantial texts. Such explicit reference underscores that this text cannot stand alone as a core text, but rather can meet the editors' aim to facilitate human rights education only if supplemented by other texts. As said, each reading prompts a number of questions for reflection and discussion; and each reading in itself could provide the basis for seminar discussion. The questions posed highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the materials included and allow for specific disciplinary focuses, as well a focus on perceiving human rights through multiple lenses. The questions [End Page 1130]also reinforce how multifaceted approaches can be adopted toward a single problem and how problems are perceived differently by different disciplines, e.g., how the political scientist and the international lawyer each view humanitarian intervention.

However, although the text undoubtedly demonstrates the changing topography of human rights, it demands a certain level of knowledge or maturity on the part of the reader. It is a text, which, to be utilized effectively, must...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-794X
Print ISSN
0275-0392
Pages
pp. 1129-1131
Launched on MUSE
2007-11-12
Open Access
No
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