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Protecting Human Rights

A Comparative Study

Ours has been called a global "age of rights," an era in which respect for human rights is considered the highest aspiration of the international democratic community. Since the United Nation's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a wide variety of protections—civil, political, economic, social, and cultural—have been given legal validation as countries ratify treaties, participate in intergovernmental organizations, and establish human rights tribunals and truth and reconciliation commissions.

Yet notable human rights failures have marred the post-Declaration era, including ongoing state violence toward citizens, the selectivity of humanitarian intervention (evidenced by the international community's failure to respond in Rwanda), and recent legislation in advanced democracies that trades some rights for protection against the threat of terrorism. How are we to reconcile the language of rights with the reality? Do we live in an age of rights after all?

In Protecting Human Rights, Todd Landman provides a unique quantitative analysis of the marked gap between the principle and practice of human rights. Applying theories and methods from the fields of international law, international relations, and comparative politics, Landman examines data from 193 countries over 25 years (1976-2000) to assess the growth of the international human rights regime, the effect of law on actual protection, and global variation in human rights norms.

Landman contends that human rights foreign policy remains based more on geo-strategic interest than moral internationalism. He argues that the influence human rights ideals have begun to have on states cannot be separated from the broader impact of socioeconomic changes that swept the globe in the late twentieth century. Landman concludes that international law alone will not suffice to fully protect human rights—it must be accompanied by democratic government, effective conflict resolution, and just economic systems.

About the Author

Todd Landman is a senior lecturer in the department of government and member of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He is the author of Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics and coauthor of Governing Latin America and Citizenship Rights and Social Movements.


"It is hard to imagine a more rigorous, systematic examination of the growth of the international human rights regime and its effect on human rights practice than Todd Landman's Protecting Human Rights."—International Studies Review

"An important and truly interdisciplinary work that will interest—and challenge—scholars and practitioners from various fields."—Political Studies Review

"Protecting Human Rights is a very impressive study that makes an important contribution to our understanding of human rights protection."—International Affairs


"Todd Landman's book represents an important contribution to human rights research. It is the result of recent, and in some cases pioneering research, specifically with regard to the development of more robust empirical measures. Human rights specialists as well as political scientists whose research agenda includes human rights will welcome its publication."—Mark Ensalaco, director, international studies and human rights studies programs, University of Dayton

"In this important book, Todd Landman offers a rigorous model for measuring the growth and impact of the international human rights regime. In the process, he makes a powerful argument for viewing human rights as an ally of international and national security and a friend of democracy. This is a welcome conclusion at a time when the value of core human rights norms, like freedom from torture, is being questioned."—Iain Guest, professorial lecturer in human rights, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and founder of the Advocacy Project

"A sophisticated study of the question of whether the growth in the breadth and depth of the international human rights regime has had the effect of improving government respect for a wide variety of human rights. This is the most methodologically sophisticated study of this question that I have seen, and it is the only one that finds that a state's formal participation in a human rights regime improves its human rights practices, even when controlling for other plausible explanations of variations in those practices. Specialists in the fields of human rights, international law, and comparative politics will welcome this book and it will be widely cited by scholars."—David Cingranelli, professor of political science, State University of New York-Binghamton

Georgetown University Press
Advancing Human Rights

9781589010635 : protecting-human-rights-landman
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