Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry:

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2001 - History - 187 pages
3 Reviews

Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this revolution has brought the world moral progress and broken the nation-state's monopoly on the conduct of international affairs. But it has also faced challenges. Ignatieff argues that human rights activists have rightly drawn criticism from Asia, the Islamic world, and within the West itself for being overambitious and unwilling to accept limits. It is now time, he writes, for activists to embrace a more modest agenda and to reestablish the balance between the rights of states and the rights of citizens.

Ignatieff begins by examining the politics of human rights, assessing when it is appropriate to use the fact of human rights abuse to justify intervention in other countries. He then explores the ideas that underpin human rights, warning that human rights must not become an idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, he argues that human rights can command universal assent only if they are designed to protect and enhance the capacity of individuals to lead the lives they wish. By embracing this approach and recognizing that state sovereignty is the best guarantee against chaos, Ignatieff concludes, Western nations will have a better chance of extending the real progress of the past fifty years. Throughout, Ignatieff balances idealism with a sure sense of practical reality earned from his years of travel in zones of war and political turmoil around the globe.

Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000, the book includes two chapters by Ignatieff, an introduction by Amy Gutmann, comments by four leading scholars--K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur, and Diane F. Orentlicher--and a response by Ignatieff.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry

User Review  - Syukur Mabel - Goodreads

nice i love it Read full review

Review: Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry

User Review  - Stacie - Goodreads

I enjoyed reading this, but strongly disagree with certain premises taken for granted by the contributors - namely the statist idea that there are cases where national sovereignty and maintaining so ... Read full review

Contents

III
3
IV
53
V
99
VI
101
VII
117
VIII
127
IX
141
X
159
XI
161
XII
175
XIII
177
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Michael Ignatieff, a writer, historian, and broadcaster, is Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. His books include "Isaiah Berlin: A Life, Blood and Belonging, The Warrior’s Honor", and "The Needs of Strangers". His novel "Scar Tissue" was nominated for the Booker Prize, and his book "The Russian Album, A Family Memoir" won Canada’s Governor General's Award and the Heinemann Prize of Britain’s Royal Society of Literature.

Bibliographic information