Achieving Human Rights
By Richard Falk
Routledge – 2009 – 246 pages
Richard Falk once again captures our attention with a nuanced analysis of what we need to do - at the personal level as well as state actions - to refocus our pursuit of human rights in a post-9/11 world. From democratic global governance, to the costs of the Iraq War, the preeminent role of the United States in the world order to the role of individual citizens of a globalized world, Falk stresses the moral urgency of achieving human rights. In elegant simplicity, this book places the priority of such an ethos in the personal decisions we make in our human interactions, not just the activities of government institutions and non-governmental organizations. Falk masterly weaves together such topics as the Iraq War, U.S. human rights practices and abuses, humanitarian intervention, the rule of law, responses to terrorism, genocide in Bosnia, the Pinochet trial, the Holocaust, and information technology to create a moral tapestry of world order with human rights at the center.
"Challenging readers to set aside received wisdom and explore the possible and desirable is what we expect from Richard Falk. Achieving Human Rights is opinionated but fair, insightful but readable. His vision of "necessary utopianism" provides a primer for a new generation and an unsettling memory-refresher for those of us who thought we had the answers."
—Thomas G. Weiss, The CUNY Graduate Center
"This volume is vintage Falk. His characteristic mix of a humane progressive agenda, careful analysis, and clear, accessible writing is brought to bear on a variety of central human rights issues in our contemporary age of America’s rights-abusive wars on terrorism and Iraq. Those who have followed Falk’s human rights writing for now more than three decades will certainly want to add this book to their collection. And those to whom Falk is a new voice are in for a real treat."
—Jack Donnelly, Andrew Mellon Professor, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
"This book demonstrates why Richard Falk has been one of the most influential human rights scholars ever. Weaving theoretical inquiry with biting political criticism, Falk calls for ethical clarification and moral reflection on what it means to uphold the human dignity of individuals in a world of sovereign states. He goes far beyond the traditional human rights framework and calls for personalizing the practice of human rights by locating freedom and responsibility in the daily decisions each of us makes about the treatment of others. Achieving Human Rights should be mandatory reading in all courses on human rights and international ethics. This forward-thinking volume is sure to remain highly influential for years to come."
– Julie Mertus, American University, author Bait and Switch
"This is a masterful overview of the practical challenges to improving the enjoyment of human rights around the world. Falk's call for a global parliament and ethical global governance may seem utopian, but he also makes a pragmatic case that nothing is more essential."
—Michael Struett, North Carolina State University
Introduction Part 1: Overview 1. Toward a Necessary Utopianism: Democratic Global Governance 2. The Power of Rights and The Rights of Power: What Future for Human Rights 3. Orientalism and International Law Part 2: Nurturing Global Democracy 4. Toward Global Democracy 5. Citizenship and Globalization Part 3: International Criminal Law 6. The Holocaust and the Emergence of International Human Rights 7. The Pinochet Moment: Whither Universal Jurisdiction 8. Genocide at the World Court: The Case Against Serbia Part 4: Human Rights After 9/11 9. A Descending Spiral 10. Encroaching on the Rule of Law: Counter-Terrorist Justifications 11. Humanitarian Intervention Part 5: Beyond Politics 12. Crimes, Lies, and Law: Human Rights in Adversity 13. Humanity in Question 14. The Ideal of the Citizen Pilgrim
Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. He is currently Visiting Distinguished Professor of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.