Tuesday 16 October 2018


My latest book, in Defense of Universal Human Rights, is about to be released by Polity Press in the UK.  This is a short book suitable for teaching.  Some colleagues in the US and the UK have already received it.

Here is a detailed table of contents (no page numbers yet, as I have not yet received my own copy).


Chapter 1. Universal Human Rights

Definition of Human Rights
Human Dignity
Origins of Human Rights
The International Law of Human Rights
Sovereignty versus Human Rights

 Chapter 2: Some Critical Perspectives on Human Rights

Human Rights as Western Liberalism
Abstraction versus Compassion
The Feminist Critique
Human Rights Law vs. Social Change
Critical Perspectives and Human Rights Universality

 Chapter 3: How Rights-Protective Societies Develop

Does the International Human Rights Regime Make Any Difference?
Market Economies
Civil Society and Political Action
Democracy and Political Institutions
Political Culture
Human Rights Regression
The Fragility of Human Rights

 Chapter 4: Civil and Political Rights

The Debate on Human Rights Priorities
The Strategic Value of Civil and Political Human Rights
The Intrinsic Value of Civil and Political Human Rights
The Right to Have Rights
Universal or Particular?

 Chapter 5: Culture and Community

Community and Responsibility
Community and Culture
Cultural Clashes
Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Religion
Social Collectivities: Indigenous Rights
The Necessity for Intra-Cultural Debates on Human Rights

 Chapter 6: Economic and Social Human Rights

Economic and Social Human Rights
Critiques of Economic and Social Human Rights
Globalization, Capitalism and Economic Human Rights
Development Models and the Intersection of Human Rights
Cherry-Picking Human Rights

 Chapter 7: Collective Human Rights

The Right to Development
Environmental Rights
The Right to Peace
Civil and Political Rights as the Basis for Collective Rights

Chapter 8: Western (Ir)responsibility for Human Rights in the Global South

International Justice
International Trade
Foreign Aid
Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations
Human Rights in Foreign Policy
The Urgent Need for Universal Human Rights

Here is the blurb on the back cover.'

Should African and Muslim-majority countries be obliged to protect LGBT rights, even though they claim such rights violate their cultures?  Should Western-based corporations be held liable if their security guards kill union activists in Latin America?

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann answers yes to both these questions.  She vigorously defends universal human rights, arguing that the entire range of rights is necessary for all individuals everywhere.  She especially defends civil and political rights such as the rights not to be tortured and the rights to vote, which are often so taken for granted as to be neglected. 

Howard-Hassmann grounds her defense of universality in her conception of human dignity, which she maintains must include personal autonomy, equality, respect, recognition, and material security. She argues that only social democracies can be considered fully rights-protective states. Other political systems such as communism, or minimally liberal or libertarian states, are not fully rights-protective.

Howard-Hassmann takes particular issue with scholars who argue that human rights are “Western,” quasi-imperialist impositions on states in the global South, and that the stress on individual rights undermines community and social obligation. She contends, to the contrary, that human rights support communities and can only be preserved if states and individuals observe their duties to protect human rights. Criticisms of human rights as “Western” confuse the practice of sovereignty by all states with some Western states’ hypocrisy in advocating for human rights elsewhere.