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Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice Paperback – October 31, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0801487767 ISBN-10: 0801487765 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 2 edition (October 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801487765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801487767
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"What Donnelly does better than anyone else is to lay before the reader a coherent conceptual framework for an understanding of international human rights as an operative part of international life. . . .Part of what makes this book such a work of academic excellence is the extent to which each sentence imparts the sense of being carefully wrought and fully considered. It remains at the top of any bibliography of indispensable books dealing with human rights."—Richard Falk, Human Rights and Human Welfare (Vol.3, 2003)



"This wide-ranging book looks at all aspects of human rights, drawing upon political theory, sociology, and international relations as well as international law. . . . Donnelly deals successfully with two of the principal challenges to the notion of the universality of human rights: the argument that some non-Western societies are not subject to Western norms, and the claim that economic development may require the sacrifice of some human rights."—Foreign Affairs (reviewing the first edition)

About the Author

Jack Donnelly is Andrew Mellon Professor and John Evans Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. His other books include International Human Rights and Realism in International Relations.


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By zach h on February 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I decided to try this book for an introductory course I'm teaching about human rights. This turned out to be a mistake. Donnelly presents the case for his own 'constructivist' account of human rights but doesn't do enough to give a fair account of alternative theories. As a result, this book isn't great as an introduction to the field. It might, I guess, be of interest to those who are already familiar with the human rights literature and so don't need to be exposed to a broader range of theories. Even so, because Donnelly doesn't engage sufficiently with opposing theoretical accounts (there are plenty from which to choose), his own conclusions are likely to strike those familiar with what else is on offer as too quick, and not particularly compelling.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Thomas O'Connor on January 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In a sense, this book is so good it doesn't need a review. Almost everyone knows that the Donnelly book is the standard and most readable text on human rights theory. It is a good starter book for the beginner. You'll learn something new on every page. My copy is full of irresistable, self-made underlines, markings, and comments in the margins. It's also a good reference book, one that you'll return to time and time again. Donnelly's method of abbreviation, for example, is standard for the main UN proclamation and two binding covenants (treaties): (U for UDHR; E for CESCR; and C for CCPR). The book differentiates between regimes that exist for declaratory or promotional purposes and those which are involved in implementation of policy or monitoring and enforcement, and Donnelly pulls no punches when pointing out that some state reports in response to Protocol complaints are nothing more than farces. It is found, for example, that there is little reason why the Arab League and various Third Way movements should even be considered human rights organizations.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By former bucknellian on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll split the difference, and say that while this is probably the gold standard for undergraduate texts on human rights, it does suffer from the serious flaws that Zach H notes. It has a decided bias in favor of the individualist perspective, to the point where his discussions of relativism come off as straw man arguments. He doesn't give them their due. Furthermore his utilitarian justification that rights are universal rests almost entirely on the nearly unanimous initial vote in the General Assembly for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This isn't terribly compelling, considering the number of abstentions and the changes in the international system brought about by decolonization. Ironically, Donnelly's recent revisions of his more basic textbook, International Human Rights, seem to respond to these shortcomings. Having used both in undergraduate courses, UHRTP is a more substantial undertaking, with a great deal more theoretical breadth and depth.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Reiner on August 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a graduate class and I found it very helpful and informative as a human rights "beginner." It is not so dense that it is difficult to read but it's also not a watered-down text.
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Format: Paperback
Wonderful book used a University of Hawai`i Manoa Anthropology class Sr year in the '90s. Sparked very intelligent and deep discussion on the differences between Human Rights and Cultural Norms. Even years after taking this class, this book is the one my class mates would talk about. Everyone should read this book at least once and reflect on how the US operates and how we as Americans view the rest of the world. Thank you Dr. Donnelly for for writing this gem.
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