Human Rights: The Essential Reference

Human Rights: The Essential Reference

Human Rights: The Essential Reference

Human Rights: The Essential Reference


Now, for the first time, there is a single reference work that documents the history of human rights worldwide, clearly explains each article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and examines the major human rights issues facing the world today. Comprehensive in scope, Human Rights covers a broad range of human rights issues that are central to an understanding of world history and current affairs.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 is broadly recognized as the starting point for the modern human rights movement and is itself the quintessential human rights document. According to Dr. H.V. Evatt, the President of the UN General Assembly in 1948, "millions of men, women, and children all over the world, many miles from Paris and New York, will turn for help, guidance, and inspiration to this document."

In keeping with the centrality of the Universal Declaration, we have organized Human Rights: The Essential Reference into sections that consider human rights before the Declaration, the Declaration itself, and the post-WWII human rights movement. Part 1 traces the evolution of our modern concept of human rights, beginning with the Classical World and ending with the Second World War and the establishment of the Universal Declaration. Part 2 provides a comprehensive look at the Universal Declaration itself: the first chapter discusses the history of the declaration, what went into writing the draft, how it works, and what it can (and can not) do; the second chapter explores each of the thirty articles individually, discussing the legal history, philosophy, and--most revealingly--the legal and social relevance of each article to contemporary problems and issues.

Part 3 takes us into the present day. Chapter 4 leads off the contemporary sections with an investigation of the post-1948 human rights movement. Chapter 5 details the work of intergovernmental organizations, particularly the United Nations, in furthering the human rights cause, and Chapter 6 looks at the activities of nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many others. Chapter 7 is a mini-biographical dictionary of individuals who have had a significant impact on human rights. The inspiring stories that make up Chapter 7 include some of the "superstars" of the human rights movement, such as Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International and South African president Nelson Mandela. We also profile some of the less celebrated but no less heroic individuals who have struggled (and continue to do so) for improved human rights, such as Egyptian author Nawal El Sadaawi and José Zalaquett, who was an instrumental member of the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in Chile.

Finally, Part 4 presents short essays on some of the most pressing contemporary human rights issues, from AIDS to the trafficking of women and girls, and from the importance of independent judiciaries to the safety of human rights workers. Although it is impossible to cover every single issue affecting human rights in the modern world . . .

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