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Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

1. Normative and Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights  

Anthony J. Langlois

This chapter discusses the normative and theoretical foundations of human rights. More specifically, it examines the theoretical basis for the normative ideas advanced by those who use the language of human rights for an ethical critique of international politics and policy. The chapter first traces the origins of the language of rights before discussing cultural relativism and imperialism, both of which challenge the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ claim to have universal application. It then considers the negative/positive distinction as a way of thinking about the differences between liberty and welfare rights. It also explores group rights, along with the philosophical and political history of the idea of human rights. Finally, it explains how the human rights agenda is deeply political, showing that it privileges a certain set of normative commitments that its proponents hope will become, in time, the ethical constitution of the international system.


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.