The International Human Rights Movement: A History

The International Human Rights Movement: A History

The International Human Rights Movement: A History

The International Human Rights Movement: A History


During the past several decades, the international human rights movement has had a crucial hand in the struggle against totalitarian regimes, cruelties in wars, and crimes against humanity. Today, it grapples with the war against terror and subsequent abuses of government power. In The International Human Rights Movement, Aryeh Neier--a leading figure and a founder of the contemporary movement--offers a comprehensive and authoritative account of this global force, from its beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to its essential place in world affairs today. Neier combines analysis with personal experience, and gives a unique insider's perspective on the movement's goals, the disputes about its mission, and its rise to international importance.

Discussing the movement's origins, Neier looks at the dissenters who fought for religious freedoms in seventeenth-century England and the abolitionists who opposed slavery before the Civil War era. He pays special attention to the period from the 1970s onward, and he describes the growth of the human rights movement after the Helsinki Accords, the roles played by American presidential administrations, and the astonishing Arab revolutions of 2011. Neier argues that the contemporary human rights movement was, to a large extent, an outgrowth of the Cold War, and he demonstrates how it became the driving influence in international law, institutions, and rights. Throughout, Neier highlights key figures, controversies, and organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and he considers the challenges to come.

Illuminating and insightful, The International Human Rights Movement is a remarkable account of a significant world movement, told by a key figure in its evolution.


On the morning of July 15, 2009, Natalya Estemirova, a researcher for the Russian human rights organization Memorial and former history teacher who had systematically reported on torture, disappearances, and murders in her native Chechnya for nearly two decades, was abducted as she left her home in Grozny and forced into a car. Her bullet-riddled body was found later by the side of a road. She had become a victim of just the kind of crime that she had so often documented.

For a brief period, the murder of Estemirova was an important news item worldwide. Few outside Russia had even known her name, but a great many now recognized that her death would have serious consequences. Chechnya has a well-earned reputation as a very dangerous place. An unusually large number of journalists, humanitarian workers, and human rights researchers have lost their lives there in the past two decades. Members of professions used to working in some of the world’s most dangerous places have learned to avoid Chechnya. Memorial’s researchers, led by Estemirova, were virtually alone by the time of her murder in keeping the world informed about the ongoing violent abuses of human rights in the territory. Would even Memorial be able to sustain that reporting after her death? “A question hangs over her execution, the most recent in a series of killings of those still willing to chronicle Chechnya’s horrors,” wrote a New York Times reporter, who described her as “both a trusted source and friend.” Is the accounting of the human toll now over? “Without her, will . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.