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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 2 .

Human Rights in Global Politics
Edited by Tim Dunne & Nicholas J Wheeler

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
337pp. Index Hb.: ISBN 0-521-64138-1. Pb.: ISBN 0-521-64643-X

Human Rights in Global Politics focuses on 'the growing disparity between the almost globally accepted standard for the protection of universal human rights and the daily denial of those basic rights to millions of people'. (Preface and acknowledgements)

In order to answer this pressing question, most of the authors agree on the need to create a 'common citizenship', or as the other authors in the book defined it, a 'human rights culture', a 'global human being', a 'cosmopolitan democracy', or a 'common humanity'. If any of these is achieved, we could prevent the dehumanization of certain groups, which, as was demonstrated in the Balkan wars lead to the toleration of the most horrid human rights violations in the eyes of many, and without any action to prevent them from happening (Booth p. 63).

Later, the book offers an interesting, but unfinished discussion on whether the evolving 'human rights culture' is a way of western domination, or if there are certain values that need not to be ethnocentric, but define us as human beings.

However, the problem with the book starts when the discussion is '(ethno)centered' around the issue of who becomes the duty bearer when sovereign states are loosing their predominance in international politics; whether it is now the task of the international civil society, or other emerging actors. At this point, the book looses its focus, only to recover it in the chapter by Gilbert Loescher, which provides a panoramic view on the issues faced by refugees an the internally displaced, establishing the connections between that problem and the widespread situation of violence in the world today. Loescher suggests that the means to end human rights violations lie in the capabilities to prevent and resolve conflict by the international community (which includes states, local and international NGO's and many other actors.

As a reader concerned with human rights issues, one hopes to find clearer connections between the problems, the solutions and the viable institutions to promote the universal respect of human rights. One needs to be educated on the more practical issues that illustrate the process that the theory is trying to describe. The other discussions are intellectually challenging, but 'academy-centric', which is in itself what the human rights workers in the field do not need when trying to stop a human rights violation from being committed.

Note: to Ms. Georgina Ashworth: The Inter American Comission of Human Rights is not based in Costa Rica, but in Washington, DC. The Inter American Court is based in Costa Rica.

Adriana Quinones
University of Notre Dame, Indiana

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