The Twilight of Human Rights Law

Hardcover | October 21, 2014

byEric A. Posner

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Countries solemnly intone their commitment to human rights, and they ratify endless international treaties and conventions designed to signal that commitment. At the same time, there has been no marked decrease in human rights violations, even as the language of human rights has become thedominant mode of international moral criticism. Well-known violators like Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have sat on the U.N. Council on Human Rights. But it's not just the usual suspects that flagrantly disregard the treaties. Brazil pursues extrajudicial killings. South Africa employs violenceagainst protestors. India tolerate child labor and slavery. The United States tortures. In The Twilight of Human Rights Law - the newest addition to Oxford's highly acclaimed Inalienable Rights series edited by Geoffrey Stone - the eminent legal scholar Eric A. Posner argues that purposefully unenforceable human rights treaties are at the heart of the world's failure to address humanrights violations. Because countries fundamentally disagree about what the public good requires and how governments should allocate limited resources in order to advance it, they have established a regime that gives them maximum flexibility - paradoxically characterized by a huge number of vaguehuman rights that encompass nearly all human activity, along with weak enforcement machinery that churns out new rights but cannot enforce any of them. Posner looks to the foreign aid model instead, contending that we should judge compliance by comprehensive, concrete metrics like poverty reduction,instead of relying on ambiguous, weak, and easily manipulated checklists of specific rights. With a powerful thesis, a concise overview of the major developments in international human rights law, and discussions of recent international human rights-related controversies, The Twilight of Human Rights Law is an indispensable contribution to this important area of international law from aleading scholar in the field.

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Countries solemnly intone their commitment to human rights, and they ratify endless international treaties and conventions designed to signal that commitment. At the same time, there has been no marked decrease in human rights violations, even as the language of human rights has become thedominant mode of international moral criticism....

Eric A. Posner teaches at the University of Chicago. He has written nine books and more than one hundred articles on international law, constitutional law, and other topics. He has written opinion pieces for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Republic, Slate, and other popular media. He is a fellow of the American Academy of...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:October 21, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019931344X

ISBN - 13:9780199313440

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The History of International Human Rights Law1.1. Prehistory-Before World War II1.2. The Universal Declaration1.3. The Cold War Era1.4. The Modern Era2. The Law and Institutions of Human Rights2.1. The Proliferation of Treaties2.2. The UN Committees, Council, and High Commission2.3. The European Court and Other Regional Bodies2.4. International Criminal Law and Judicial Institutions2.5. National Institutions3. Why Do States Enter Human Rights Treaties?3.1 To Improve Human Rights3.2 The Costs of Entering Human Rights Treaties3.3 The 'Western Imperialism' Criticism and Its Limits4. Do States Comply with Human Rights Treaties?4.1. Human Rights Treaties and the Question of Compliance4.2. Statistical Studies: What They Show5. Why Do States Comply or (Not Comply) With Human Rights Treaties?5.1 International Incentives to Comply5.2 Domestic Incentives to Comply5.3 Ambiguity and Inconsistency5.4 Why International Organizations Are No Solution5.5 A Failure of Will5.6 The Problem of Epistemic Uncertainty5.7 The Importance of Political Participation5.8 Reprise6. Human Rights and War6.1 The Human Rights Peace6.2 Humanitarian Intervention6.3 The League of Democracies7. A Fresh Start: Human Rights and Development7.1 Three Dead Ends7.2 The White Man's Burden