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Human Rights

Theory and Practice

Fourth Edition

Author Michael Goodhart

Publication Date - April 2022

ISBN: 9780190085469

544 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The most complete, most topical, and most student-friendly introduction to human rights


Human Rights: Theory and Practice is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary text written by a global team of experts with coverage and content unrivaled by any other text on the market. With contributions from an international panel of experts--including political scientists, lawyers, philosophers, and policy-makers--this text is unmatched in its ability to provide students with a practical, comprehensive and twenty-first century perspectives on the theory, study, and practice of human rights. In addition to in-depth theoretical content, the book features unrivaled coverage of human rights issues in practice, with a wide range of case studies allowing students to explore true-to-life examples from around the world. There are also dynamic pedagogical features that encourage critical analysis, challenge students to question their assumptions, and facilitate class dialogue on key issues. The fourth edition is fully up-to-date, with new readings centered on recent and relevant issues.

New to this Edition

  • New chapters on feminism, imperialism, and the performative dimensions of human rights practice
  • New chapter on politics, specifically the controversies and conflicts that emerge in their practice
  • New chapters on indigenous rights, language sovereignty, the human right to water, and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • All chapters have been updated and revised


  • Takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing together contributions from political and social scientists, philosophers, lawyers, and policy experts
  • Makes extensive use of case studies to illustrate key points and emphasize the practical and political dynamics of human rights
  • Ensures that students are up-to-date with cutting edge research in a constantly evolving field
  • Includes extensive pedagogical support to aid student learning and encourage critical analysis

About the Author(s)

Michael Goodhart is Professor of Political Science, Director of the Global Studies Center, and a University Honors College Faculty Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also the author of Injustice: Political Theory for the Real World (OUP, 2018).


"This text provides an excellent thematic introduction to the study of human rights, covering a wide range of issues and perspectives. The authors provide an extensive array of suggestions for further reading to provide supplementation to this material for more advanced students at the graduate level."--Michael Sullivan, St. Mary's University

Table of Contents

    Notes on Contributors
    Introduction, Michael Goodhart

    Part I: Theory

    1. The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, Anthony Langlois
    The Emergence of Rights Language
    Modern Human Rights
    Types of Human Rights: Liberty and Welfare Rights
    Group Rights
    Human Rights as a Political Project

    2. Human Rights in International Law, Rhona Smith
    Historical Evolution of International Human Rights Law
    Sources of International Human Rights Law
    Monitoring and Enforcing International Human Rights Law

    3. The Politics of Human Rights, Michael Goodhart
    The Invention of Human Rights
    Why Are Human Rights Controversial?
    Thinking Politically about Human Rights

    4. Feminist Approaches to Human Rights, Laura Parisi
    Women's Rights are Human Rights : Evolution of the Discourse
    The Structural Indivisibility of Rights and CEDAW
    Gender Equality and Human Rights: Contemporary Issues

    5. Imperialism and Human Rights, Bonny Ibhawoh
    Linking Imperialism and Human Rights
    Empire and Atrocity
    Strategic Human Rights
    Self-Determination and Racial Equality
    Nationalism and Decolonization

    6. The Social Life of Human Rights, Damien Short
    Sociology of Human Rights
    Anthropology of Human Rights
    A Common Thread: The Social Construction of Right

    7. Human Rights Claiming as a Performative Practice, Karen Zivi
    The Human Rights Gap
    Theorizing Performativity
    Human Rights Performativity

    Part II: Practice

    8. Genocide, Scott Straus
    The Origins of the Concept of 'Genocide'
    Theories of Genocide
    Case Studies: Rwanda and Darfur

    9. Humanitarian Intervention, Alan Kuperman
    Introduction to Humanitarian Intervention
    Evolving Concepts of Intervention
    Military Intervention
    Obstacles to Effective Intervention
    Unintended Consequences of Intervention
    Case Study of Intervention: Bosnia
    Conclusion: Lessons of Humanitarian Intervention

    10. Transitional Justice, Joanna Quinn
    Retributive Justice
    Restorative Justice
    Reparative Justice
    Putting Transitional Justice into Practice
    Case Study: Uganda

    11. Treaties, monitoring, and enforcement, Emily Ritter
    International Treaty Creation and Ratification
    Compliance in Law and Action
    Monitoring Compliance
    Enforcement in Instances of Non-Compliance
    Case Study: The Black Lives Matter Movement

    12. Political Democracy and State Repression, Christian Davenport
    Understanding the Democracy-Repression Nexus
    Case Studies: Democracy and Repression in the United States in Two Historical Periods
    The Path to Peace: Directions for Future Research

    13. Migration and Refugees, Gil Loescher & Kurt Mills
    Assessing the Problem
    The Problem of Defining Refugees
    The UNHCR, Human Rights, and the International Refugee Regime
    Case Study: Forced Displacement in Myanmar
    The Way Forward: The Need for New Alliances and New Actors

    14. Human Rights and the Environment, Sumudu Atapattu
    What are environmental rights? Convergence between human rights and environmental protection
    Synergies and challenges of using a human rights framework for environmental issues
    Regional systems of human rights
    Emergence of a right to a healthy environment and its implications
    Case study - Teitiota v. New Zealand

    15. Indigenous Rights and Language Sovereignty, Odilia Romero, Joseph Berra, & Shannon Speed
    From erasure to sovereignty: a trajectory of reclamation
    The imposition and persistence of settler colonial structures
    Human rights harms through the lens of Indigenous language knowledge keepers
    Identity, language and sovereignty

    16. Social movements and human rights, Jackie Smith
    Social Movements and Human Rights
    The Diffusion of Human Rights
    Case Study: Human Rights Cities "Bringing Human Rights Home"
    Human Rights Globalization & Cities

    17. Theory in Practice: Making Human Rights Claims in a Human Rights Way, Brooke Ackerly
    Universal Human Rights and Cultural Relativism
    Human Rights Struggles
    Case Study: Theory in Practice

    18. Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Human Rights, Cricket Keating and Cindy Burack
    Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity rights as human rights
    Organizing for SOGI human rights
    Critiques of SOGI Human rights activism
    Case Study: Uganda

    19. Religion and Human Rights, Roja Fazaeli and Joel Hanisek
    Historical context of the relationship
    A complex relationship
    The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case
    The Bahin Case

    20. The human right to water, Madeline Baer
    Defining Water
    The Human Right to Water
    Privatization of Water
    Creating the Human Right to Water in International Law
    Case Study: Bolivia

    21. The SDGs and economic rights, Inga Winkler & Matheus de Carvalho Hernandez
    History and Development of the SDGs
    The Reflection of Human Rights in the Sustainable Development Agenda
    Accountability: Central to Human Rights but not the SDGs
    Case Study: Reducing Inequalities