Globalization and Human Rights

Globalization and Human Rights

Globalization and Human Rights

Globalization and Human Rights


"A useful examination of an important subject. This work adds important insights into human rights and globalization, a subject that is sure to remain at the center of debate for a considerable time."--David P. Forsythe, coauthor of "The United Nations and Changing World Politics

"Brysk and her collaborators have produced the most systematic and comprehensive study to date of globalization and human rights. The authors move the debate forward by mapping out the impact of diverse forms of globalization on different types of rights, concluding that globalization can both exploit and empower, depending on the form of globalization and the type of state."--Kathryn Sikkink, co-author, with Margaret Keck, of "Activists Beyond Borders


As we enter the twenty-first century, many scholars, media commentators, and citizens alike are attempting to grapple with the ever-increasing rate at which our world is becoming more integrated. Numerous components of “civilization” (e.g., capital, labor, goods, services, information, disease) that were once relatively fixed from a geographical standpoint are now hurled around the planet at previously unthinkable speeds. This notion of “globalization” has been seen as the solution to some contemporary problems, including underdevelopment, malnutrition, and perhaps human rights violations.

However, some have argued that this latest “wave” of globalization is no different from previous periods of increased trade and integration. Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson (1996) argue that the global economy is no more open now than at the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 1870s. They argue that much of the so-called “globalization” affects only the global North (primarily Europe, Japan, and North America) and continues to ignore the global South. While it is true that the Group of Seven (G-7) still commands extreme power throughout the world, I argue that this latest round of globalization is distinct in both quantitative and qualitative terms. As Alison Brysk's introduction indicates, the current wave of globalization indeed surpasses previous eras in its breadth, scope, and intensity. International trade, for instance, increased twice as fast as global gross domestic product in the 1990s. While still not a majority of that growth, developing countries' share rose from 23 to 29 percent. The speed and volume of financial flows has also soared in the past decade. With overall foreign direct investment at over $3,455 billion (in 1997), the industrial world accounts for approximately 68 percent, leaving the developing countries with over 30 percent (World Bank 2000: 33–38).

This same period has witnessed the creation and implementation of important human rights instruments that have been incorporated into a so-

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