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Shelf Help: 'The Twilight of Human Rights Law'

Are our human rights initiatives too abstract and ineffective?
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The Twilight of Human Rights Law
Eric A. Posner
Oxford University Press

For the last four decades, Western attitudes toward war and conflict have prioritized human rights. But has this done any good? The University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner concludes that all our concern has mostly failed to improve lives. Human rights initiatives have been too abstract, too divorced from political realities, and too ineffective to be considered successful. Posner proposes dispensing with human rights promotion entirely and replacing it with development economics: The West, he argues, should give material aid to beleaguered societies, even if that means ignoring rights abuses. Posner’s diagnosis is too cynical, and his solution too hasty. The language and law of human rights—both relatively young—have altered the debate worldwide and allowed reformists to push for change. The human rights moment has only just arrived. Plans for its early retirement are premature.


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