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Making Human Rights a Reality
Emilie M. Hafner-Burton

A Winner of the 2015 ISA Annual Best Book Award, International Studies Association

Paperback | 2013 | $30.95 | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780691155364
296 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 2 tables.
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In the last six decades, one of the most striking developments in international law is the emergence of a massive body of legal norms and procedures aimed at protecting human rights. In many countries, though, there is little relationship between international law and the actual protection of human rights on the ground. Making Human Rights a Reality takes a fresh look at why it's been so hard for international law to have much impact in parts of the world where human rights are most at risk.

Emilie Hafner-Burton argues that more progress is possible if human rights promoters work strategically with the group of states that have dedicated resources to human rights protection. These human rights "stewards" can focus their resources on places where the tangible benefits to human rights are greatest. Success will require setting priorities as well as engaging local stakeholders such as nongovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions.

To date, promoters of international human rights law have relied too heavily on setting universal goals and procedures and not enough on assessing what actually works and setting priorities. Hafner-Burton illustrates how, with a different strategy, human rights stewards can make international law more effective and also safeguard human rights for more of the world population.


"Over the last 60 years, the international community has constructed a global human rights system, embodied in an expanding array of principles, declarations, treaties, courts, and transnationally organized lawyers and activists. Yet, as Hafner-Burton makes clear in this important book, the system's aspirations have far outstripped its ability to enforce international law and protect norms."--Foreign Affairs

"The book exemplifies exactly what I am training my doctoral students to do in their writing projects: instead of creating a research design of their own, to review existing scholarship to arrive at an empirically-informed argument relevant to policy-makers that challenges existing wisdom or weighs in constructively in a debate. . . . Hafner-Burton's call for human rights scholarship to be useful to steward states and for steward states to pay attention, resonates loud and clear."--Charli Carpenter, Duck of Minerva

"Hafner-Burton effectively bridges the worlds of scholarship and practice in developing a compelling, informed, and accessible argument regarding how to promote global human rights more effectively. This fantastic book makes meaningful contributions to the academic study of human rights and also offers a compelling vision of a practical strategy for advancing human rights that should be of interest to policymakers and practitioners. Ultimately, Hafner-Burton offers a clear-headed and compelling argument in this highly readable book that should be of interest to anyone committed to making human rights a reality."--Debra L. DeLaet, International Dialogue


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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Research xiii
Introduction xv
1 The Problem of Human Rights 1
Part I The Calculus of Abuse 19
2 Contexts 21
3 Rationales 29
Part II International Law 41
4 The International Human Rights Legal System 44
5 Scholarly Perspectives 67
6 Practitioner Perspectives 86
7 System Reform 116
Part III A Stewardship Strategy 135
8 The Status Quo 138
9 Nongovernmental Organizations 151
10 National Human Rights Institutions 164
11 Triage 176
12 Making More of Law and Power 193
Notes 199
Index 267

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