Monday, April 27, 2015

Understanding the "Human Rights Enterprise"


Professors William Armaline, Davita Glasberg, and Bandana Pukayastha recently published The Human Rights Enterprise: Political Sociology, State Power and Social Movements (Wiley 2015).  While it addresses human rights broadly, many of the examples are drawn from the United States, including consideration of Guantanamo, drone strikes, and the Occupy Movement.  Very favorably reviewed as a teaching text in the LSE Review of Books, the publisher's description is here:

"Why do powerful states like the U.S., U.K., China, and Russia repeatedly fail to meet their international legal obligations as defined by human rights instruments? How does global capitalism affect states’ ability to implement human rights, particularly in the context of global recession, state austerity, perpetual war, and environmental crisis? How are political and civil rights undermined as part of moves to impose security and surveillance regimes? 

This book presents a framework for understanding human rights as a terrain of struggle over power between states, private interests, and organized, “bottom-up” social movements. The authors develop a critical sociology of human rights focusing on the concept of the "human rights enterprise": the process through which rights are defined and realized. While states are designated arbiters of human rights according to human rights instruments, they do not exist in a vacuum. Political sociology helps us to understand how global neoliberalism and powerful non-governmental actors (particularly economic actors such as corporations and financial institutions) deeply affect states’ ability and likelihood to enforce human rights standards.

This book offers keen insights for understanding rights claims, and the institutionalization of, access to, and restrictions on human rights. It will be invaluable to human rights advocates, and undergraduate and graduate students across the social sciences."

Ed.'s Note:  On Tuesday, April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Obergefell v. Hodges, et al., the four consolidated cases that challenge state-level same-sex marriage bans under the federal constitution's equal protection clause as well as state failure to recognize such marriages performed in other states.  Several amicus briefs presented the Court with information concerning relevant comparative and human rights law on this issue.  Check back here on Tuesday when, following the oral argument, we will feature commentary from Professor Noah Novogrodsky, who served as co-counsel on the amicus brief submitted on behalf of Foreign and Comparative Law Experts in support of petitioners.

| Permalink


Post a comment