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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.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

6. Sociological and Anthropological Approaches  

Damien Short

This chapter explores sociological and anthropological approaches to the study of human rights. Anthropologists and sociologists have typically been either positivists or relativists. Consequently they have been slow to develop an analysis of justice and rights, thus lagging behind other disciplines in analysing the growth of universal human rights. This chapter shows how sociology and anthropology finally engaged with the concept of universal human rights after a long disciplinary focus on cultural relativism and legal positivism. It considers how sociology expanded its analysis of citizenship rights to that of human rights and how anthropology turned its ethnographic methodology towards an examination of the ‘social life of rights’. It also describes ‘social constructionism’ as a common bond between sociology and anthropology, laying emphasis on the importance of sociological and anthropological perspectives to the study of human rights.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

8. Measuring and Monitoring Human Rights  

Todd Landman and Larissa C. S. K. Kersten

This chapter focuses on the measurement and monitoring of human rights. It explains the purpose, challenges, and types of human rights measures and discusses the main content of human rights that ought to be measured, including the different categories and dimensions of human rights. It also considers the different ways that human rights have been measured using various kinds of data and measurement strategies, such as events-based data, standards-based data, survey data, and socio-economic and administrative statistics. Furthermore, it looks at new trends in human rights measurement, with a focus on new ways to measure economic and social rights, ‘open source’, and ‘big’ data, and the mapping and visualization of human rights data. The chapter concludes by discussing the remaining challenges for human rights measurement and monitoring, including biased reporting, incomplete source material, and the importance of continued dialogue between different academic disciplines on the need for measurement.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Social Movements and Human Rights  

Jackie Smith

This chapter discusses the significance of the human rights movement to contemporary conflict and local and global democracy. It recognizes how social movement challenges state authority shaping the structure of democracies as activists develop political repertoires designed to expand public participation in political decision-making. Moreover, social movements resulted in the globalization of human rights, which is supported by a growing array of international treaties and institutions. The chapter then looks into the work of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on improving mechanisms for human rights enforcement alongside the Human Rights Council. It considers the important roles of scholars and students in supporting human rights movements.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Imperialism and Human Rights  

Bonny Ibhawoh

This chapter discusses the correlation between human rights and imperialism. It cites how imperialism is central to the development of human rights ideology by referencing the collapse of the empire following World War II and the rise of the international human rights movement. The human rights language boosted the justification and legitimization of imperialism. The chapter also highlights the impact of imperialism on the rights and liberties of colonized people, which also led to the strategic social reforms, anti-colonial activism, and colonized people's struggles for independence in the human rights movement. The collapse of empires shaped the development of human rights, while decolonisation influenced international human rights.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

The Social Life of Human Rights  

Damien Short

This chapter looks into the development of sociological approaches to the study of human rights. It explains how sociology covered the ride of human rights through shared human vulnerability and collective sympathy, institutional threats, and assertion of powerful class interests, while anthropology deepened the understanding of socially constructed rights. Sociologists tend to view rights as inventions or products of human social interaction and power relations. The chapter then expounds on the concept of social constructionism in relation to power and social structure. It also explains that an ethnographic approach to human rights showcases how human rights function and their meaning to different social actors in varying social contexts.

Chapter

Cover Political Ideologies

2. Liberalism  

Robin Redhead and Stephen Hood

This chapter explores the basic assumptions of liberal ideology. It first traces the origins of liberalism before discussing some key concepts and values of a liberal ideology such as liberty, democracy, rights, and tolerance. It then considers two of the most important, yet contrasting, strands within liberalism: economic liberalism, which supports policies of privatization and laissez-faire economics, and social liberalism, whose concern for individual freedom is coupled with a commitment to social equality. The chapter also looks at some key criticisms of liberal ideas, focusing on the liberal vision of a just society, as well as the influence of liberalism on social movements and political parties in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. Finally, it illustrates the pervasiveness of liberalism and how it is related to other ideologies.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

17. Children’s Human Rights Advocacy  

Vanessa Pupavac

This chapter examines some theoretical and practical problems in global children's rights advocacy. It begins with a discussion of the novelty of children's rights and the problem of identifying the moral agent of children's rights. It then considers the tensions between the universalism of human rights advocacy and the relativism of development advocacy. It shows that children's rights research is influenced by social constructivism, which highlights the history of childhood and childhood norms. Early social constructivist approaches identified the concept of childhood underpinning the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a Western construction based on Western experiences and its exclusion of the experience of childhood in developing countries. The chapter proceeds by looking at a case study involving attempts to eradicate corporal punishment of children globally. It suggests that there are social and political problems with attempting to globalize childhood norms without globalizing material development.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

9. Global Civil Society and Human Rights  

Marlies Glasius and Doutje Lettinga

This chapter examines the relationship between global civil society (GCS), defined as ‘people organizing to influence their world’, and the normative ideal of a ‘global rule-bound society’. It first explains the concept of GCS before discussing some of the GCS actors involved in human rights issues, with a particular focus on their background, methods, and influence. It then decribes three kinds of activities of individuals and organizations in civil society in relation to human rights corresponding to three different phases: shifting norms, making law, and monitoring implementation. These activities are illustrated with two case studies: norm-shifting activities in relation to economic and social rights, and lawmaking and monitoring activities in relation to the International Criminal Court.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

11. Hugo Grotius  

Camilla Boisen

This chapter examines Hugo Grotius' key political ideas. Grotius, one of the most prolific and erudite writers of the seventeenth century, sought to formulate a set of universal rights and duties that would secure peace by constraining states in their internal and external relations. Drawing on a wide range of philosophical and literary sources, including Roman law, ancient classics, theology, and poetry, Grotius rehabilitated the natural law in an attempt to achieve harmony in an increasingly splintered political environment. After providing a short biography of Grotius, the chapter analyses his views on natural law, natural rights, property rights, sociability, self-preservation, and social contracts. It also discusses Grotius' arguments regarding international order in the context of just war theory and punishment and concludes with an assessment of Grotius' legacy in the area of political thought.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Introduction  

Michael Goodhart

This introductory chapter explores the field of human rights, considering it first as a field of enquiry that can be interrogated through both normative and empirical approaches. The chapter goes on to consider the theories and practices of human rights, including liberalist, legal positivist, and social constructivist theories. The chapter then briefly considers the international human rights regime and ends with an introduction to the rest of the book.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Genocide and Human Rights  

Scott Straus

This chapter discusses the correlation between genocide and human rights. It examines Raphael Lemkin's concept of genocide which resulted in an international treaty on the punishment and prevention of genocide. The UN Genocide Convention became the law that embodied the landmark treaty on genocide. Additionally, the chapter explores the social scientific theories on why genocide occurs. Classic theories on genocide tend to highlight intergroup antipathy, authoritarianism, and hardship. The chapter also references the historical background and international responses to the genocides recorded in Rwanda and Darfur. It reflects on the possibilities and limits of the Genocide Convention as a human rights instrument.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

25. Global health  

Sophie Harman

This chapter looks at public health on a global scale and examines how crucial this topic has become since the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Global political interest in pandemics, the chapter argues, is about much more than just the threat to health and lives. It is also about the knock-on impact health emergencies, such as the recent pandemic, have on economics and society including social welfare and education, but also socio-economic, gender, and racial equality. The chapter starts with an examination of how health became a global issue with reference in particular to the relationship between war and disease. In addition to this, health became a global issues as a result of the growth in world trade and the resultant economic globalization. Two case studies are presented in this chapter. The first consider the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1308 and the second delves into the relationship between Covid-19 vaccinations and intellectual property rights.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

6. The English School  

Tim Dunne

This chapter examines the main assumptions of the English school, the principal alternative to mainstream North American theorizations of International Relations. It first provides an overview of what the English school is and how it emerged before discussing its methodology as well as its master-concept of international society. It then considers three concepts that are the primary theoretical contribution of the English school: the social order established by states and embodied in the activities of practitioners must be understood alongside the dynamics of the international system and world society. The chapter proceeds by exploring the English school’s position on the issue of human rights and its implications for justice in international relations.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

Introduction  

From international politics to world politics

Patricia Owens, John Baylis, and Steve Smith

This text offers a comprehensive analysis of world politics in a global era. It examines the main theories of world politics—realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, poststructuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism. It reviews the main structures and processes that shape contemporary world politics, such as global political economy, international security, war, gender, and race. Furthermore, it addresses some of the main policy issues in the globalized world, including poverty, human rights, and the environment. This introduction offers some arguments both for and against seeing globalization as an important new development in world politics. It also explains the various terms used to describe world politics and the academic field, particularly the use of ‘world politics’ rather than ‘international politics’ or ‘international relations’. Finally, it summarizes the main assumptions underlying realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

1. Introduction: from international politics to world politics  

John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens

This chapter introduces the text which offers a comprehensive analysis of world politics in a global era. The text examines the main theories of world politics— realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, poststructuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism. It reviews the main structures and processes that shape contemporary world politics, such as global political economy, international security, war, gender, and race. Furthermore, it addresses some of the main policy issues in the globalized world, including poverty, human rights, health (with particular emphasis on the recent global pandemic), and the environment. This introduction offers some arguments both for and against seeing globalization as an important new development in world politics. It also explains the various terms used to describe world politics and the academic field, particularly the use of ‘world politics’ rather than ‘international politics’ or ‘international relations’. Finally, it summarizes the main assumptions underlying realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

The Politics of Human Rights  

Michael Goodhart

This chapter explores the politics of human rights. As human rights function as an ethical standard in international law and political practice, the standard enabled the naming and shaming strategy that became the mainstay of international human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The chapter covers why human rights as politics generate controversy by referencing the understandings of social constructs, paradox of institutionalization, and cultural relativism. Indeed, human rights are inherently political and controversial. The chapter then discusses the accommodation of inequality through neoliberal conceptions of human rights. It explains the two important contemporary debates about human rights: its effectiveness in combatting economic inequality and precarity, and the evidence of a global backlash against human rights.

Chapter

Cover Politics

11. Laws, Constitutions, and Federalism  

This chapter explores the interrelationships between law, constitutions, and federalism. It first explains the importance of constitutions in shaping the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before discussing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular asking whether it is Western-centric. It then considers the ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with emphasis on the distinction between Islamic and Western practice. It also examines the role of constitutional courts and judicial review, legal adjudication of political problems, how the institution of federalism is used to contain the powers of the state and to manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to handling social diversity. Finally, it analyses the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

12. Social constructivism  

Michael Barnett

This chapter examines constructivist approaches to international relations theory. It explores whether there is a possibility of moral progress in world politics, whether some cultures and countries are more (or less) inherently violent, and whether states are motivated by power or by ideas. The chapter also discusses the rise of constructivism and some key concepts of constructivism, including the agent–structure problem, holism, idealism, individualism, materialism, and rational choice. It concludes with an analysis of constructivist assumptions about global change. Two case studies are presented, one relating to social construction of refugees and the 2015 European migration crisis, and the other to the ‘human rights revolution’ and torture. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether the laws of war have made war less horrific.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

17. Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke  

Alan Coffee

This chapter discusses the contrasting philosophies of Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke regarding the fundamental nature of political society and the approaches to take on reform. Macaulay’s philosophy revolves around the core ideal of freedom as independence from arbitrary control. Additionally, Macaulay’s work recognized that people’s beliefs are shaped by the social environment but could be manipulated by elites. On the other hand, Burke’s philosophical beliefs are organic, contextual, and pragmatic while addressing the complexity and range of social considerations and human motivations that contribute to a viable and productive state. However, Burke’s philosophy could be challenged as to whether he provides protection against possible abuse of power or not. The chapter also covers the weakness in their philosophical works while considering equal citizenship rights for women and minority social groups.