International Handbook of Human Rights

International Handbook of Human Rights

International Handbook of Human Rights

International Handbook of Human Rights


"This collection of essays on the current human rights climate in 19 countries includes Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Israel, Poland, the USA, and USSR, and represents a variety of regimes, cultural traditions, and geographical areas. . . . For analysis of the facts this volume excels. A well-crafted introduction describes current debate about human rights theory and practice, traces the development of human rights instruments, and discusses problems of implementation. Strongly recommended." Library Journal


During the last decade, a major scholarly literature on human rights has developed. the bulk of this literature deals with international law and politics. By contrast, this book contains nineteen case studies of national human rights practices, reflecting the fact that most human rights violations are perpetrated by states against their own citizens, and that improvements in practice must come principally at the national level. Our emphasis is on the politics of human rights, the sociopolitical bases of national practices, and the universality of human rights and human rights violations.

Unlike many previous efforts, most of the authors in this volume are not human rights specialists; most are social scientists with expert knowledge of their countries. This reflects the fact that human rights practices are embedded in social structure and politics. If we are to understand the bases for the respect and violation of human rights, we must understand power, wealth, and the relations of rulers to ruled. the study of human rights may be a newly emerging academic specialty, but it must be grounded in rigorous historical and social scientific analysis.

The majority of our contributors are political scientists and sociologists. Our authors include, however, two lawyers, a historian, a journalist, and three human rights activists. Most of our authors are North Americans. Several natives of countries we wished to include in the volume were recruited; most were lawyers and human rights activists. Unfortunately, many were unable to complete their chapters. For example, one East European lawyer withdrew for personal reasons and was unable to find a replacement, as to write a chapter for this volume could have invited political reprisals. One Asian lawyer, a defense attorney in a major political trial, withdrew when he found himself charged with criminal contempt by his government (see appendix 4).

But despite our authors' diversity of experience and perspectives, all accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an authoritative international . . .

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