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August 2010: Human Rights & Foreign Policy

Introduction to the Month's Focal Piece Editor's introduction: Human Rights & Foreign Policy

Article under review:

Alison BryskDoing Well By Doing Good
by Alison Brysk

"Not all countries are poised to become global human rights promoters, but the global survey that begins my study shows that dozens more pass a minimum threshold of democracy, development, and security that permits a principled foreign policy. What makes the difference is vision and mobilization—leadership, cosmopolitan values, and an engaged civil society."

Par EngstromUK Foreign Policy and Human Rights
by Par Engstrom

"Given this broader scenario then, support for human rights may indeed serve the UK’s (and the US’s) long-term interests as Porteous suggests. But, just as ignoring human rights can be “a recipe for failure and further instability,” so too can justifying coercive foreign policies by recourse to the rhetoric of human rights have dire consequences. For many in the UK at least, the jury is still out in this regard in relation to most such foreign policy initiatives under the Blair government. There is therefore a strong case for prudence when promoting human rights."

Marc Alexander C. GionetRegenerating Leadership or Rhetoric?
by Marc Alexander C. Gionet

"The true potency of human rights as the nucleus of policy development will be dependent on the level of priority the government places on this ambitious objective and there are competing priorities, especially on the domestic front. The temptation to simply apply the rhetoric of human rights and not the substance will be overwhelming given the level of resources that the protection and promotion of human rights demands."


James PattisonHuman Rights at the “Core” of UK Foreign Policy Requires Respect for Core Human Rights
by Erin Mooney

“(…)as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK has a special role and responsibility to strengthen UN efforts to safeguard civilians during armed conflict. In recent years, the Security Council has adopted several important resolutions on the protection of civilians, including specific commitments for protecting children and combating sexual violence in armed conflict. Yet, as outgoing UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (and former British diplomat) Sir John Holmes bemoaned to the UN Security Council last month, for millions of civilians caught in the midst of armed conflict, “too little has changed on the ground.” Much more needs to be done to bridge the gap between the norms espoused at the UN in New York and the harsh realities in the field."

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