A Force Profonde: The Power, Politics, and Promise of Human Rights

By Edward A. Kolodziej | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
A Force Profonde: The Power, Politics,
and Promise of Human Rights

Edward A. Kolodziej


Whither Human Rights?

Chou En-lai was allegedly asked what he thought were the results of the French Revolution. He supposedly replied: “It’s too early to tell.” Adam Hochschild’s prize-winning study of King Leopold’s plundering of the Belgian Congo’s rubber and ivory at the cost of countless native lives makes the same point. In tracing the careers of the long-forgotten reformers who exposed Leopold’s depredations, Hochschild (1999, 306) linked their moral lineage as revolutionaries to the tradition of “the French Revolution and beyond.” They selflessly dedicated their lives and fortunes to the human rights of people they scarcely knew. Their example continues to be emulated today in more ways than can be told. Evidencing his own revolutionary credentials, Hochschild concludes: “At the time of the Congo controversy a hundred years ago, the idea of human rights, political, social, and economic, was a profound threat to the established order of most countries on earth. It still is today.”

Building on these insights, this volume takes stock of the vitality and impact of the force of human rights today—a force profonde, working through time and space, shaping and shoving human societies. Given space constraints, this study provides a selective set of up-to-date photographs of how well or ill this force is faring in key regions around the world. These snapshots reveal strategies pursued by key regional actors and the resources they dispose either to foster or to frustrate the realization of human rights. A regional, worm’s eye view has been adopted to get clearer and sharper pictures of what is actually happening on the ground in the many ongoing struggles for human rights around the globe, to place into relief a bird’s eye view—the photo album as a whole—which projects the global scale of this force profonde.

Human rights assume many forms, shaped by the historical, socioeconomic, political, and cultural conditions through which this revolutionary

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A Force Profonde: The Power, Politics, and Promise of Human Rights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chapter 1 - A Force Profonde- The Power, Politics, and Promise of Human Rights 1
  • Part I - Contending Legitimacies 29
  • Chapter 2 - Western Perspectives 31
  • Chapter 3 - Muslim Perspectives 45
  • Part II - Regional Perspectives 69
  • Chapter 4 - The Northern Tier 71
  • Chapter 5 - North Africa 91
  • Chapter 6 - The Middle East- Israel 113
  • Chapter 7 - Northeast Asia- China 128
  • Chapter 8 - South Asia 144
  • Chapter 9 - Southeast Asia 163
  • Chapter 10 - The European Union 182
  • Chapter 11 - Eastern Europe- The Russian Federation 198
  • Chapter 12 - Latin America 220
  • Chapter 13 - Southern Africa 238
  • Chapter 14 - West Africa- Nigeria 260
  • Part III - Retrospect and Prospects 275
  • Chapter 15 - Whither Human Rights? 277
  • Notes 293
  • References Cited 299
  • Contributors 317
  • Index 319
  • Acknowledgments 339
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