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Cover Political Thinkers

29. Arendt  

Justine Lacroix

This chapter examines a number of key concepts in Hannah Arendt's work, with particular emphasis on how they have influenced contemporary thought about the meaning of human rights. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's claim that totalitarianism amounts to a destruction of the political domain and a denial of the human condition itself; this in turn had occurred only because human rights had lost all validity. It then considers Arendt's formula of the ‘right to have rights’ and how it opens the way to a ‘political’ conception of human rights founded on the defence of republican institutions and public-spiritedness. It shows that this ‘political’ interpretation of human rights is itself based on an underlying understanding of the human condition as marked by natality, liberty, plurality and action, The chapter concludes by reflecting on the so-called ‘right to humanity’.


Cover Human Rights

The Human Right to Water  

Madeline Baer

This chapter tackles the human right to have access to water, as it plays a central role in issues such as poverty and climate change. It highlights the importance of clean water to daily survival and the future habitability of the planet. Water services have been viewed as public goods to be provided by governments without profit to all members of society. Moreover, international human rights treaties highlighted the accessibility and affordability of water as it is essential to realizing other rights. The chapter then raises the concern over the privatization of water by referencing the case study of Bolivia implementing and evaluating the human right to water (HRtW).


Cover Issues in Political Theory

11. Human Rights  

Tom Campbell

This chapter focuses on human rights. Human rights are derived historically from the idea of natural law as it developed on a strong religious basis in late medieval Europe and, later, in a more secularized form during the more rationalist period of the Enlightenment. Meanwhile, the contemporary human rights movement stems from the aftermath of World War II. It is associated, domestically, with constitutional bills of rights and, internationally, with the work of the United Nations. Human rights may be defined as universal rights of great moral and political significance that belong to all human beings by virtue of their humanity. They are said to be overriding and absolute. Human rights may be divided into three overlapping groups: civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and group or collective rights for development and self-determination.


Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

2. Utilitarianism  

This chapter examines the practical implications of utilitarianism as a political morality. It first considers two features of utilitarianism that make it an attractive theory of political morality. First, the goal being promoted by utilitarians does not depend on the existence of God, or a soul, or any other dubious metaphysical entity. The second attraction is utilitarianism’s ‘consequentialism’. The chapter proceeds by breaking utilitarianism into two parts: an account of human welfare, or ‘utility’, and an instruction to maximize utility, giving equal weight to each person’s utility. It also discusses the two main arguments for viewing utility maximization as the standard of moral rightness: equal consideration of interests, and teleological utilitarianism. Finally, it evaluates utilitarians’ claim that every source of happiness, or every kind of preference, should be given the same weight, if it yields equal utility. The chapter argues that utilitarianism is inadequate as an account of equal consideration.


Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

13. Economic Globalization and Human Rights  

David L. Richards and Ronald D. Gelleny

This chapter investigates the relationship between economic globalization and government respect for two subcategories of international human rights known as physical integrity rights and empowerment rights. It begins with an overview of different theoretical approaches regarding the relationship between economic globalization and government respect for human rights. It then reviews research findings from the quantitative literature analysing this relationship. It also conducts an original study using quantitative methods to determine whether a developing country's ability to attract foreign direct investment is affected by its level of governmental respect for human rights. The results show that governments that respect their citizens' physical integrity and empowerment rights will be better able to attract foreign economic capital.


Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

19. Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights  

Paul Havemann

This chapter examines issues surrounding the human rights of Indigenous peoples. The conceptual framework for this chapter is informed by three broad, interrelated, and interdependent types of human rights: the right to existence, the right to self-determination, and individual human rights. After describing who Indigenous peoples are according to international law, the chapter considers the centuries of ambivalence about the recognition of Indigenous peoples. It then discusses the United Nations's establishment of a regime for Indigenous group rights and presents a case study of the impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples. It concludes with a reflection on the possibility of accommodating Indigenous peoples' self-determination with state sovereignty.


Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

12. Human Rights and Politics in Development  

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr

This chapter discusses the importance of politics to the relationship between human rights and development. It describes the two major ways in which human rights struggles have focused on development processes in the last two decades: the right to development, the struggles of poor countries for a better deal in the global economic system; and the human rights-based approach to development, the struggles of poor people for development to realize their rights. The chapter first considers the links between human rights, politics, and development before analysing the concepts and debates surrounding the right to development and the human rights-based approach to development. It then presents a case study on the Millennium Development Goals and the successor, Sustainable Development Goals, to illustrate how human rights principles are raised in contemporary debates on development priorities.