The International Human Rights Movement: A History (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity)

The International Human Rights Movement: A History (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity)

Aryeh Neier

Language: English

Pages: 392

ISBN: 0691159602

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


During the past several decades, the international human rights movement has had a crucial hand in the struggle against totalitarian regimes, cruelties in wars, and crimes against humanity. Today, it grapples with the war against terror and subsequent abuses of government power. In The International Human Rights Movement, Aryeh Neier--a leading figure and a founder of the contemporary movement--offers a comprehensive and authoritative account of this global force, from its beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to its essential place in world affairs today. Neier combines analysis with personal experience, and gives a unique insider's perspective on the movement's goals, the disputes about its mission, and its rise to international importance.

Discussing the movement's origins, Neier looks at the dissenters who fought for religious freedoms in seventeenth-century England and the abolitionists who opposed slavery before the Civil War era. He pays special attention to the period from the 1970s onward, and he describes the growth of the human rights movement after the Helsinki Accords, the roles played by American presidential administrations, and the astonishing Arab revolutions of 2011. Neier argues that the contemporary human rights movement was, to a large extent, an outgrowth of the Cold War, and he demonstrates how it became the driving influence in international law, institutions, and rights. Throughout, Neier highlights key figures, controversies, and organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and he considers the challenges to come.

Illuminating and insightful, The International Human Rights Movement is a remarkable account of a significant world movement, told by a key figure in its evolution.

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international justice in a relatively brief period—­less than two decades since the establishment of the Yugoslav tribunal in 1993—­ seems remarkable. 20  ■  C ha p t er 1 In 2011, more than two decades after the revolutions in Eastern Europe that brought the Cold War to an end, the world order has again been altered by a set of revolutions, this time in the Arab states of North Africa and the Middle East. As was the case in the former Soviet bloc, the human rights movement played an

which a new basis for security and prosperity can be established for all—­regardless of station, race or creed.” He then went on to list its components, citing “a useful and remunerative job”; “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation”; “the right of every family to a decent home”; “the right to a good education”; and several more. Roosevelt concluded his list with the assertion: “All these rights spell security. And after this war is won, we must be prepared

particular individual or a finite group of individuals who could be held accountable in such a way as to secure someone else’s development. Enforcement of this right could take place only through the collective action of an entire society, or of many societies acting together under the direction of global authorities to bring about the necessary transfer of resources. The same is true of a healthy environment or of peace. Without some international institution owning the capacity to regulate the

grounding in the concept of natural rights. Rather, as the words of the preamble indicate, rights are seen as a means to recognize the worth and dignity of each person. To the extent that the words of the Charter define rights, it is by a focus on the right of all to be treated equally. As the United Nations was intended mainly to be an institution that would further the cause of peace, a commitment to the promotion and observance of human rights was perceived by the authors of the Charter as a

significant parts of China’s cultural heritage and persecuting those deemed to have a bourgeois family background or thought not to be enthusiastic devotees of Mao. Though China’s isolation had been interrupted while the Cultural Revolution was underway by the diplomatic initiative of President Richard Nixon’s national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, and by Nixon’s own visit to China, this was not accompanied by any opening within China. Changes began in 1976 with the death of Premier Zhou

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