In preparation for my involvement with Hope's Model United Nations Team, I picked up David Forsythe's text Human Rights in International Relations. As I've been assigned to the issue of international humanitarian aid, I thought it would be helpful to do some research on human rights in global context. Forsythe's book has been a valuable resource!
Forsythe sets out to present an analysis of the state of human rights on the international stage today as well as to project their development into the present century. While he does recognize the wide gulf between the liberal rhetoric of most contemporary democracies on the subject of human rights and the dismal reality of the the turbulent twentieth century, his long-term vision is generally optimistic. The evidence, he concedes, can certainly be interpreted in conflicting ways; nevertheless, his guarded conclusion is that "the twenty-first century should be better than the twentieth."
The text is laid out in terms of four sub-themes: the likeliness of human rights to maintain their prominent place in world affairs indefinitely; the importance of considering human rights in the form of soft-law when evaluating their influence on the world stage, and not their presence in codified pronouncements only; the significant role of non-governmental organizations in propagating human rights; and the fundamental change that the notion of state sovereignty is undergoing.
Next on my reading list, of course, will probably be a textbook of some sort, as classes are beginning soon. However, I am fairly excited about the classes that I have lined up this semester!
Neil Baker is a Liberal Arts major here at HIU, with a concentration in Philosophy and Theology. He is pictured above with Hope's MUN Team, which will be attending an MUN conference at Harvard University this February. From left to right, the team members pictured are: Dr. Steve Edgington (supervisor), Sineesenatu "Sine" Schirmer, Amy Thorne, Hillary Lamont, Neil Baker, Prof. Roberto Sirvent (supervisor), Daniel Sugimoto, Ryan McKinney (supervisor), Sarah Brown, and Kasey Philyaw.
Human Rights in International Relations by David P. Forsythe, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
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