Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy

Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy

Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy

Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy

Synopsis

Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy is the first book in English to examine the place of human rights in the foreign policies of a wide range of states during contemporary times. The book is also unique in utilizing a common framework of analysis for all 10 of the country or regional studies covered. This framework treats foreign policy as the result of a two-level game in which both domestic and foreign factors have to be considered. Leading experts from around the world analyze both liberal democratic and other foreign policies on human rights. A general introduction and a systematic conclusion add to the coherence of the project. The authors note the increasing attention given to human rights issues in contemporary foreign policy. At the same time, they argue that most states, including liberal democratic states that identify with human rights, are reluctant most of the time to elevate human rights concerns to a level equal to that of traditional security and economic concerns. When states do seek to integrate human rights with these and other concerns, the result is usually great inconsistency in patterns of foreign policy. The book further argues that different states bring different emphasis to their human rights diplomacy, because of such factors as national political culture and perceived national interests. In the last analysis states can be compared along two dimensions pertaining to human rights: extent to which they are oriented toward an international rather than national conception of rights; and extent to which they are oriented toward international rather than national action to protect human rights.

Excerpt

The United States, like virtually all other states, has constructed a positive self-image. This self-image centres on defence of personal freedom, understood as civil and political rights. The notion of the United States as symbol of individual civil and political rights, an idea not without some relative and historical validity, has been problematic enough in a domestic context – given such historical facts as slavery and racial segregation, racist immigration laws, anti-Semitism, and gender discrimination, inter alia. But the question of whether the United States should champion civil and political rights through an activist foreign policy has been much more problematical, giving rise to considerable debate since the founding of the Republic. Moreover, the United States mostly rejects any necessary relationship between socio-economic rights and the classical civil and political rights so central to Western liberal philosophy – aside from a commitment to the economic (civil?) right to private property. After the Cold War, the United States has continued to identify with leadership for civil and political rights in world affairs. But it has not always, or even very often, been willing to pay even a moderate price, in either blood or treasure, to see these rights implemented in foreign countries – as seems true for other democracies as well. It has also continued to reject a clear, consistent, and meaningful endorsement of most socio-economic rights. The United States, although making some positive contributions to the advancement of internationally recognized human rights through its foreign policy, still struggles to institutionalize attention to human rights . . .

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