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The promotion of human rights in international politics
Author: M. Anne Brown

This book argues for greater openness in the ways we approach human rights and international rights promotion, and in so doing brings some new understanding to old debates. Starting with the realities of abuse rather than the liberal architecture of rights, it casts human rights as a language for probing the political dimensions of suffering. Seen in this context, the predominant Western models of right generate a substantial but also problematic and not always emancipatory array of practices. These models are far from answering the questions about the nature of political community that are raised by the systemic infliction of suffering. Rather than a simple message from ‘us’ to ‘them’, then, rights promotion is a long and difficult conversation about the relationship between political organisations and suffering. Three case studies are explored: the Tiananmen Square massacre, East Timor's violent modern history and the circumstances of indigenous Australians. The purpose of these discussions is not to elaborate on a new theory of rights, but to work towards rights practices that are more responsive to the spectrum of injury that we inflict and endure.

Dominant approaches
M. Anne Brown

THE IDEA OF human rights covers a complex and fragmentary terrain. As R. J. Vincent comments near the beginning of his work on human rights in international relations, ‘human rights’ is a readily used term that has become a ‘staple of world politics’, the meaning of which is by no means self-evident (1986: 7). After glossing the term as the ‘idea that humans have rights’ (1986: 7) – a deceptively simple approach – Vincent notes that this is a profoundly contested territory, philosophically as well as politically. This is not surprising, as

in Human rights and the borders of suffering
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister
Juliano Fiori

decorated living Brazilian diplomat. As we began discussing international affairs and strategy, Amorim’s speech assumed a calm, professorial cadence. ‘Global disorder’ undermines international cooperation, he suggested soberly. And there is a need to rescue human rights discourse, despite the hypocrisy and selectivity of its liberal proponents. Amorim leant forward when I brought up Brazil’s recent withdrawal from the world stage. As foreign minister throughout the two presidential terms of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from 2003 to 2011, he guided

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order
Stephen Hopgood

practicality prevents it). This is the same foundational commitment that animates human rights work. The humanist core to both of these forms of social practice is a similar kind of belief in the ultimate priority of moral claims made by human beings as human beings rather than as possessors of any markers of identity or citizenship. What differences exist between humanitarianism and human rights are largely sociological – the contextual specifics of the evolution of two different forms of social activism. I have argued elsewhere, for example, that

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Timothy Longman

Introduction Beginning in 1990, the small Central African country of Rwanda was shaken by a pro-democracy movement and a rebel invasion, led by exiled members of the minority Tutsi ethnic group. The government responded to the dual pressures of protest and war by offering political reforms while simultaneously seeking to regain popularity with the members of the majority Hutu group by stirring up anti-Tutsi ethnic sentiments. Both a number of new domestic human rights groups and international human rights organisations documented the regime’s repression of

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editors’ Introduction
Marc Le Pape and Michaël Neuman

, germane to the issues surrounding situations of extreme violence, which recounts a research discussion entitled ‘Biafra, Humanitarian Intervention and History’ held in January 2020 in Manchester by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute. The aim of the Paris conference was to present the investigative approaches used by social science researchers, humanitarian practitioners, human rights activists and journalists. This issue of the JHA shows that while these groups have different objectives and field practices, there are connections (and in some cases

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Military Tactic or Collateral Damage?
Abdulkarim Ekzayez and Ammar Sabouni

institutionalised, forming many credible organisations such as the Violations Documentation Center, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights (LDHR). Collaboration between all actors in conflict settings is essential to document their lived experiences in light of these challenges in conducting research. Documenting experiences of humanitarian and public health practitioners is of special importance because, in these settings, they may be the only witnesses to crimes and atrocities. To draw lessons from these resource-limited and extreme

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
David Rieff

the matter more starkly, be allowed to continue as currently constituted) than the other elements of that system. The reason for this should be self-evident: humanitarian action is an integral part of the system; indeed, it can be argued that for at least thirty years, the actions of relief agencies, above all the international private, voluntary ones, have served as the moral warrant for liberal globalisation. Only the human rights movement has been more central in this regard. 1 To be sure, the perceived need for relief NGOs to play this

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Hakim Khaldi

How can we go about our work of saving lives when, in Syria, civilians, the wounded and their families, medical personnel and aid workers are all targets – whether in areas controlled by the government or those held by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or various rebel groups with diverging political agendas? Over the course of several field missions, the author of this article, a member of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sought to decipher the political and military engagements undertaken in different regions of Syria during the war years. He also factored into his analysis the endless flow of data, information and positioning being produced and published over this period, because the war was also fought every day on the internet where the representatives and ideologists of warring groups, human rights organisations, Syrian diaspora organisations and spokespersons of the Syrian central authorities were and still are a permanent presence. Drawing on all these observations and data, the author relates and analyses the emergency relief activities carried out by MSF in Syria, how these activities evolved and the conditions in which choices to intervene and decisions to withdraw were taken.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori

prioritised bilateral negotiations. UN institutions were then often used, and even designed, explicitly as vehicles for the pursuit of US interests: the World Food Programme, for example, was established in 1961 to channel American agricultural surplus to the developing world. Liberal internationalism as we know it today, with its particular political and cultural associations with the US, is a product of the 1970s. As Samuel Moyn has argued, it was in the second half of that decade that human rights had its first breakthrough as a cosmopolitan

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs