In late September 1999, two items in the daily newspaper suggested further potential expansion of the human rights agenda. The first, summarizing the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's speech to the 54th session of the UN General Assembly, reported his argument that the global community had learned that it could not stand idly by watching gross and systematic violations of human rights, that state sovereignty was being redefined to encompass the idea of individual sovereignty, and that in our contemporary reading of the UN Charter we were 'more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them'. Nothing in that Charter precluded 'recognition that there are rights beyond borders'. The second, two days later, was in the form of an advertisement by Shell International announcing its commitment in support of fundamental human rights as codified in its Statement of General Business Principles. The heading of this advertisement asked rhetorically whether rights were 'none of our business? Or the heart of our business?' 1 Both statements contain ideas that scholars and practitioners will pick over with some scepticism and put to the test in various ways. Even if the sceptics turn out to be correct, the statements nevertheless demonstrate a shift in perception about attitudes that ought to be expressed. They also suggest that, for some, human rights activity neither is solely a state-based activity, nor can any longer be interpreted to mean that the way a government treats its people is nobody's business but its own.
This book has sought to trace the movement towards these principles, to demonstrate via an examination of individual, state, institutional, and advocacy network behaviour that the human rights issue has become a dominant feature of the international system, and that interactions among these actors have led to the erosion of the traditional, West-phalian, concept of state sovereignty. This traditional form has been under challenge since the creation of the UN Charter, the Genocide