A world in which human beings will enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want was proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. Disregard and contempt for human rights has only persisted and increased. The original Charter of the United Nations contained a general statement on human rights.
Universal Declaration on Human Rights
Following the Second World War and the horrific experiences of that struggle, many nations set to creating the United Nations. The need for a more detailed and substantial statement on human rights was seen and a Commission was established to create such a document.
This commission wrote the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which was adopted by General Assembly of the United Nation on December 10, 1948. In 1966 the United Nations adopted two further documents on human rights: the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
These covenants contain many of the rights asserted in the Universal Declaration but they differ in that they are legally binding on those nations signing the covenants.
Some important dates in the evolution of human rights:
In 1215, the charter of English personal and political liberty was obtained from King John which was called the Magna Carta.
In 1776, most of the British colonies in North America
proclaimed their independence from the British Empire in a document which still stirs
feelings, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator
with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of
In 1789, the first French Republic. Out of the revolution came the "Declaration of the Rights of Man."
In 1961, a group of lawyers, and others, offended and frustrated by the sentencing of two Portugese college students to twenty years in prison for having raised their glasses in a toast to "freedom", formed Appeal for Amnesty, 1961. This appeal gave birth to Amnesty International and the modern human rights movement.
In 1977, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for its work.
In 1978, the Human Rights Watch was formed.
Intellectual Property and Human Rights: A Paradox by Willem Grosheide - An excellent overview of the many significant questions of social and legal policy that emerge at interface between intellectual property and human rights. The relationship between intellectual property and human rights is central to the thinking of everyone concerned with some of the most profound problems. Provides a range of views on the human rights implications of intellectual property law and policy. Provides an explanation to the relationship between intellectual property law and human rights law.
Woodiwiss, A. Globalization, human rights and labour law in Pacific Asia - Cambridge University Press, 1998. This book looks at cultural values and sets these in the context of transnationalism. Pacific Asia is the model, with reference to the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.
Richards, D.A.J. Identity and the case for gay
rights: race, gender, religion as analogies
University of Chicago Press, 1999. Sociological analysis exploring the issue of gay identity in the context of precedents involving race, gender and religious toleration.
Poulter, S. Ethnicity, law and human rights
Clarendon, 1998. Ethnically heterogeneous character of modern nations ensures that minority rights form an increasingly important item on the political agenda.
Ghandhi, P.R. (ed) Blackstones international human rights documents
Blackstone Press, 2000.
Kaushal, R. Women and human rights in India
Kaveri Books, 2000. Study which addresses the plight of Indian women, detailing the human rights violations suffered by them despite existing constitutional provisions and guarantees.
Iyer, S. The struggle to be human: womens human rights 2000
Books for Change, 1999. Human rights violations against women in India.
Alfredsson, G. and Eide, A. (eds) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a common standard of achievement Kluwer, 1999.
Dunne, T. and Wheeler, N.J. Human rights in
CUP, 1999. Seeks to address the dichotomy between the global acceptance of human rights in theory, and the denial of those rights in practice. The issue of human rights in relation to such groups as women, refugees and the media.
Savic, O. The politics of human rights
Verso,1999. Essays written by influential thinkers, which seek to define human rights as a universal concept. A view of human rights from the standpoint of political philosophy.
Shelton, D. Remedies in international human rights law
OUP, 1999. The development of international human rights law and institutions and the procedures used to achieve remedies and redress.
Johnson, M.G. and Symonides, J. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a history of its creation and implementation
1948-1998, UNESCO, 1998. Looks at the personalities and the work involved in its drafting, and its eventual impact, with special emphasis on the contribution of UNESCO.
Gorman, R.F. and Mihalkanin, E.S. Historical dictionary of human rights and humanitarian organizations
Scarecrow, 1997. A listing of human rights and humanitarian organizations including grassroots activists. Traces the concept of human rights back to its roots.
Robertson, D. A dictionary of human rights
Europa, 1997. A collection of texts of the major human rights documents from Magna Carta, 1215 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
Lawson, E. [compiled by ] Encyclopedia of human rights
Taylor & Francis, 1996 2nd ed. Appendices list international instruments concerned with human rights with the status of international human rights conventions.
Gibson, J.S. Dictionary of international human rights law
Scarecrow, 1996. Sources, definitions, landmarks and cross references for 64 rights in international treaties and four "declared" rights.
Henkin, L. The age of rights
Columbia University Press, 1990. Human rights has won universal acceptance. Looks at human rights theory in the international scene and in the United States.
Friedman, J.R. and Sherman, M.I. (eds) Human rights: an international and comparative law bibliography
Greenwood, 1985. A bibliography providing 4,306 citations from world-wide sources in the fields of human rights, international law and comparative law.
Hannom, H. (ed) Guide to international human rights practice, Macmillan, 1984.
A practical guide to international human rights practice.
Brownlie, I. Basic documents on human rights
Clarendon Press, 1981. Texts of the fundamental human rights documents created by the United Nations and other international organizations.
Kilkelly, U. The child and the European convention on human rights
Dartmouth, 1999. Detailed thematic examination of the European convention as it relates to children, with examples from case law which are of particular use to legal practitioners.
LeBlanc, L.L. The convention on the rights of the child: UN lawmaking on human rights
University of Nebraska Press, 1995. The UN Convention, describing its origins and background and offering an account of its drafting and ratification.
Degener, T. and Koster-Dreese, Y. (eds) Human rights and disabled persons: essays and relevant human rights instruments. Nijhoff, 1995. Essays addressing the legal framework which supports the human rights of disabled persons, and presenting all the relevant covenants, rules and instruments.
Doyle, B. Disability, discrimination and equal opportunities: comparative study of the employment rights of disabled persons. Mansel, 1995. Disabled persons employment rights in Britain, the European Community, the US, Canada and Australia and assesses the way in which disability discrimination operates.
Despouy, L. Human rights and disabled persons
United Nations, 1993. The legal issues respecting disabled people and the particular problems that face them. National and international responses are scrutinised, and ways to improve the situation and to educate.
Howse, R. and Matua, M. Protecting human rights
in a global economy: challenges for the World Trade Organization Rights & Democracy,
2000. Evaluation of how trade liberalisation may affect human rights in the
context of the burgeoning global economy and the efforts of the WTO to structure it.
Addo, M.K. Human rights standards and the responsibility of transnational corporations - Kluwer, 1999. An investigation of the transnational corporation and its human rights obligations. Case studies provide examples of the potential conflict between commercial activity and human rights. With bibliographical notes.
Liberty (ed) Liberating cyberspace: civil liberties, human rights and the Internet 1999
Pluto Press, 1999. Essays which debate the question of free speech and censorship on the internet.
Meyer, W. H. Human rights and international political economy in Third World Companies: multinational corporations, foreign aid and repression - Praeger, 1998. Foreign investment, and the roles of foreign and multinational corporations. Indexed and with a bibliography.
Weeramantry, C.G. Justice without frontiers: protecting human rights in the age of technology Vol 2
Kluwer, 1998. The increasing tension between scientific power and human rights. Scrutinises the efficacy of codes of professional ethics as safeguards.
Falk, R. On humane governance: towards a new global politics
Polity Press,1995. Postulates a movement towards geogovernance and questions how this trend can be rendered more humane and people-centred.
Mahoney, K.E. and Mahoney, P. Human rights in the 21st century: a global challenge
Nijhoff, 1993. Human rights topics including mass communications, development and womens issues. It stresses the "interdependence of legal, social, economic and environmental problems which transcend national and international boundaries."
Weeramantry, C.G. (ed) The impact of technology on human rights: global case-studies
UN University Press, 1993. Essays which look at the impact upon society of recent advances in technology and their implications for human rights in a number of countries.
Defending the earth: abuses of human rights and the environment
Human Rights Watch, 1992. Of abuses of the environment and the rights of those peoples attempting to draw attention to them.
Weeramantry, C.G. (ed) Human rights and scientific and technological development
United Nations University, 1990. Essays commissioned by the United Nations University which look at the potential threats to human rights caused by scientific and technological advance such as, for example, medical experimentation, electronic intrusion into privacy and destruction of the environment.
Cherry, M.J. (ed) Persons and their bodies: rights, responsibilities, relationships - Kluwer, 1999. Essays which view the body from a philosophical standpoint, and which seek to establish rights and responsibilities in the context of bioethics.
McLean, S. Old law, new medicine: medical ethics
and human rights
Rivers Oram, 1999. Human rights in relation to reproduction and abortion; and also with such issues as infant disablement and treatment of the dying.
Alfredsson, G. and Tomasevski, K. (eds) A thematic guide to documents on health and human rights
Nijhoff, 1998. Human rights health standards, grouped according to subject and covering such issues as public health, HIV/AIDS, protection against health hazards, and access to health care.
Gostin, L.O. and Lazzarini, Z. Human rights and public health in the AIDS pandemic
Oxford University Press, 1997. Looks at the threat posed to affected persons by measures taken in the name of public health, and investigates the vulnerability to infection of groups such as women and children in circumstances where their basic human rights are inadequately protected.
Brody, E. Biomedical technology and human rights
Dartmouth, 1993. Health and its relationship to international human rights. Aspects of reproductive technology, gene manipulation, euthanasia assisted suicide and transplantation. Attitudes to human rights in the culture of science and technology.
Sieghart, P. AIDS and human rights: a UK perspective
British Medical Association Foundation for AIDS, 1989. Introduction to the issues involved in the conflict of interest between halting the spread of AIDS, and human rights.
Flood, P.J. The effectiveness of UN human rights institutions
Praeger, 1998. UN human rights institutions and their activities, their strengths and weaknesses. Explores the ways in which UN mechanisms operate, and conclusions are drawn as to their effectiveness.
Havemann, P. (ed) Indigenous peoples rights in Australia, Canada & New Zealand
OUP, 1999. Essays which examine many aspects of indigenous rights in these countries.
Guiraudon, V. International human rights norms
and their incorporation: the protection of aliens in Europe - European University
Institute, European Forum, 1998 (EUI working paper EUF. no.98/4)
Miller, D.H. Freedom to differ: the shaping of the gay and lesbian struggle for civil rights
New York University Press, 1998. Events in the US political arena which demonstrate the difficulties experienced by gay men and lesbians in achieving civil rights.
Pritchard, S. (ed) Indigenous peoples, the United Nations and human rights
Zed Books, 1998. UNs human rights system and its relevance to the needs of indigenous peoples. Indexed and with a bibliography.
Cholewinski, R. Migrant workers in international human rights law
Clarendon, 1997. How migrant workers have traditionally received less protection from the international community than refugees. Provides a case study which looks at migrant workers and their families in Europe. With bibliography.
Shapiro, I. and Kymlicka, W. Ethnicity and group rights
New York University Press, 1997. Exploring ethnicity and group rights, the idea of toleration and the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion are then described in a selection of countries, and also in the context of gay politics.
de Varennes, F. Language, minorities and human rights
Nijhoff, 1996. Looks at state and international approaches to language and freedom of expression and demonstrates how these can result in human rights infringements.
Opalski, M. and Dutkiewicz, P. (eds) Ethnic minority rights in Central Eastern Europe
Canadian Human Rights Foundation, 1996. Surveying the ethnic minorities in the countries of the region concerned and evaluating their existing rights.
Esman, M.J. and Telhami, S. International organizations and ethnic conflict
Cornell University Press, 1995. The role of international organizations after the second world war, specifically with regard to their interventions in Lebanon and Yugoslavia.
Rupesinghe, K. Ethnic conflict and human rights
UN University, 1994. Papers from an international seminar focusing on ethnic conflict and its impact on human rights and conflict resolution.
Deng, F.M. Protecting the dispossessed: a challenge for the international community
Brookings Institution, 1993. The plight of internally displaced persons.
Rupesinghe, K. and Verstappen, B. Ethnic conflict and human rights in Sri Lanka: an annotated bibliography Volume 1 - Zell, for the International Peace Research Institute, 1989.
Crawford, J. (ed) The rights of peoples
Clarendon, 1992. Makes a distinction between the rights of groups and those of individuals and questions how far the needs of both reinforce or are incompatible with each other.
Thornberry, Dr.P. Minorities and human rights law
Minority Rights Group, 1991. An introduction to the topic of minority rights, set in the context of human rights law.
Korey, W. NGOs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Macmillan, 1998. The role of nongovernmental organizations and their involvement in human rights.
Power, J. Amnesty International: the human rights story
McGraw-Hill, 1981. The creation of Amnesty International and its attempts to counter human rights abuses in a number of countries, including Tanzania and the USSR.
Gustafson, C. and Juviler, P. (eds) Religion and human rights: competing claims?
Sharpe, 1999. Essays which investigate the compatibility of human rights and religious systems in the light of religion's ambiguous relationship to the rights of women.
Mayer, A.E. Islam and human rights: tradition and politics
Westview, 1999. Islamic human rights schemes and their relationship to women, non-Muslims, and others, emphasising the complexity of religious tradition in the Islamic world.
Price, D.E.Islamic political culture, democracy and human rights
Praeger, 1999. The political culture of a wide cross-section of Muslim states and the effect of Islam upon democracy and human rights. The results tend to contradict traditional assumptions.
de Bary, W.T. Asian values and human rights: a Confucian communitarian perspective
Harvard University Press, 1998. Study of Chinese human rights issues which seeks to reconcile Confucianism with libertarian concepts of the individual.
de Bary, W.T. and Weiming, T. (eds) Confucianism and human rights
Columbia University Press, 1998. Essays focusing on the Chinese philosophical tradition and its relationship to the concept of human rights.
John, J. (ed) Human rights and the churches
World Council of Churches, 1998. Texts issued by the ecumenical movement.
Keown, D.V. et al (ed) Buddhism and human rights
Curzon, 1998. This book questions the appropriateness of the term human rights in the context of Buddhism. The authors look at Buddhist tradition and philosophy.
Plantak, Z. The silent church: human rights and
Adventist social ethics
Macmillan, 1998. Seventh-day Adventist history, ethics and religious beliefs in an attempt to explain inconsistencies in the churchs attitude to human rights.
Silvennoinen, S. and Suksi, M.(eds) Human rights and religion: the case of the Sudan
Institute for Human Rights, 1997. Human rights abuses in the Sudan, and looks at the potential conflict between certain interpretations of Islam and human rights discourse.
Bloom, I. et al (eds) Religious diversity and human rights
Columbia University Press, 1996. Essays covering the relationship between a variety of religions and the human rights of particular groups. Exploring the philosophical and cultural aspects of the debate.
Witte, J. and van der Vyver, J.D. (eds) Religious human rights in a global perspective
M. Nijhoff, c1996. Human rights from the religious perspective. This encompasses both religious human rights and the attitudes of particular faiths to the human rights issue itself.
Breslauer, S.D. Judaism and human rights in contemporary thought: a bibliographical survey
Greenwood Press, 1993. Summarises the subject of Judaism and human rights theory.
Formicola, J.R. The Catholic Church and human rights: its role in the formulation of US policy, 1945-1980
Garland, 1988. The influence of the Catholic church in the United States in the formative post-war years, and of its attitude to international human rights.
Fenster, T. (ed) Gender, planning and human rights
Routledge, 1999. Looks at human rights from an unusual perspective.
Fox, D. and Hasci, N. (eds) The challenges of
womens activism and human rights in Africa
Edwin Mellen, 1999. Examine the cultural background of womens rights, and the recognition of those rights as human rights issues per se.
Afkhami, M. (ed) Faith and freedom: womens human rights in the Muslim world
Tauris, 1995. Essays which scrutinise aspects of womens human rights experience in a number of Muslim states.
Alfredsson, G. and Tomasevski, K. (eds) A thematic guide to documents on the human rights of women
Nijhoff, 1995. Legal texts grouped together according to subject-matter.
Cook, R.J. Womens health and human rights
World Health Organization, 1994. This is a lawyers view of womens health rather than that of a medical practitioner. The book takes a close look at international human rights treaties.