Human Rights and Foreign Policy in the Next Millennium

By Forsythe, David P. | International Journal, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

Human Rights and Foreign Policy in the Next Millennium


Forsythe, David P., International Journal


The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first intergovernmental statement in world history to approve a set of basic principles on universal human rights. Since the 1940s, when Articles 55 and 56 of the United Nations Charter required states to co-operate on human rights matters, almost all states -- not just Western ones -- have regularly reaffirmed the existence of universal human rights without negative discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, gender, race, creed, or colour. This reaffirmation occurred most saliently in Vienna at the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights. Regional developments have supplemented this global trend, most notably in Europe and the western hemisphere, but also in Africa and, to a lesser extent, the Arab world. The European Court of Human Rights regularly issues binding judgments on states. The Organization of American States (OAS) in its 1991 Santiago Declaration indicated that the presence or absence of democratic government in the hemisphere was an international, not a domestic, matter. The international or transnational law of human rights is now a well developed corpus of law, far more concentrated and specified than in other fields such as international environmental law.

The twentieth century, however, is not only a time of increasing professions of international morality and human rights; it is also the bloodiest century in human history. As the 21st century approaches, a fundamental challenge is to reduce the enormous gap between the liberal legal framework on human rights that most states have formally endorsed and the illiberal reality that is so evident from Algeria to Afghanistan, from Belarus to Burma, from China to Croatia. The most important problem is not that certain Asian states at the 1993 Vienna conference tried to elevate cultural relativism and national particularism over universal (or regional) human rights. It is rather that after the cold war we are faced with glaring genocide and other crimes against humanity on a massive scale. Treaties to protect the rights of women and children are juxtaposed to a global industry in the sex trade. Treaties to outlaw slavery, the slave trade, and slavery-like practices are combined with daily press accounts of people held in de facto bondage -- whether sugar-cane cutters in the Dominican Republic, shirt makers in Guatemala, or child labourers in India and Pakistan. Two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva conventions for victims of war meant nothing to those who killed Red Cross workers in Chechnya or United Nations aid workers in Rwanda.

While intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and private transnational groups dealing with human rights proliferate, states and their foreign policies remain key to progressive developments. IGOs, from the United Nations through the OAT to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have extensive human rights programmes. Independent international officials in these organizations have some influence, but it is state-members of these IGOs that take the most important decisions and that are, along with non-state parties, the targets of reform efforts. Likewise, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights are highly active in human rights matters and also wield some influence. But again, it is states that approve treaties and their monitoring mechanisms, states that (may or may not) arrest war criminals -- either singly or via international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), states that manipulate foreign assistance in relation to rights.

This article looks at human rights and state foreign policy in comparative perspective. It focusses on the United States, the most important actor in international relations on the eve of the 21st century, showing that it has a particular slant to its foreign policy on rights and is more prone to preach to others than to take international rights standards very seriously at home. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Rights and Foreign Policy in the Next Millennium
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.