The preceding chapters have surveyed the international human rights policies of several diverse countries. Although the selection is not entirely representative – in particular, countries that even today largely overlook human rights in their foreign policy have been ignored, for obvious reasons – it is sufficiently broad to allow some preliminary conclusions about the state of human rights in post–Cold War foreign policy. Many states in the post–Cold War world include respect for internationally recognized human rights as part of their national self-images and as an objective in their foreign policies. Few, however, make more than occasional, modest sacrifices of other foreign policy interests in the name of human rights. In this concluding chapter, I will try to draw attention to both the reality and the limits of states' concern with international human rights.
Realists, who still dominate the intellectual and policy-making mainstream in most countries, properly emphasize the characteristic unwillingness of states to sacrifice material interests. Nonetheless, the fact that human rights are a bounded or secondary interest makes that interest no less real than those with higher priority. If the impact of limited interests is limited, that is still an impact. Even where human rights do not decisively tip the decision-making balance, they still may have some weight. And when a decision does hang in the balance, even the small additional weight of human rights considerations may prove to be decisive in determining national policy.
Human rights advocates properly emphasize the growing prominence