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International Human Rights Day resources

December 10 is International Human Rights Day, as recognized by the United Nations. Human dignity, freedom from discrimination, civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights for all should go without question. Whether it be from “the Hindu Vedas; the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi; the Bible; the Quran (Koran); the Analects of Confucius; the codes of conduct of the Inca, Aztec, or the Iroquois Constitution, there is evidence that most societies had systems in place to care for the needs of their members.”

The necessity of human rights for all and the value of individual human life should be unquestionable. In recognition and respect for International Human Rights Day, we compiled together this list of recommended resources to encourage deeper reflection on the issues.

Human Needs: Overview by Michael A. Dover
Human need and related concepts such as basic needs have long been part of the implicit conceptual foundation for social work theory, practice, and research. Michael A. Dover examines how human need has long been both a neglected and contested concept. In recent years, the explicit use of human needs theory has begun to have a significant influence on the literature in social work.

Human Rights and US Foreign Policy by Sarah B. Snyder
In its formulation of foreign policy, the United States takes account of many priorities and factors, including national security concerns, economic interests, and alliance relationships. An additional factor with significance that has risen and fallen over time is human rights, or more specifically violations of human rights. Sarah B. Snyder analyzes the historical debate around the extent to which the United States should consider such abuses or seek to moderate them.

The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law by Cathryn Costello
Focusing on access to territory and authorization of presence, and residence for third-country nationals, The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law examines the EU law on immigration and asylum, addressing related questions of security of residence. Concentrating on the key measures concerning both the rights of third-country nationals to enter and stay in the EU, and the EU’s construction of illegal immigration, it provides a detailed and critical discussion of EU and ECHR migration and refugee law.

Islamic Law and Human Rights by Shannon Dunn
Shannon Dunn explores the question of whether Islamic law and universal human rights are compatible. She begins with an overview of human rights discourse after the Second World War before discussing Islamic human rights declarations and the claims of Muslim apologists regarding human rights, along with challenges to Muslim apologetics in human rights discourse. She then considers the issues of gender and gender equality, feminism, and freedom of religion in relation to human rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt human rights
“Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.” Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Are Refugee Rights Human Rights? An Unorthodox Questioning of the Relations between Refugee Law and Human Rights Law by Vincent Chetail
In this chapter, Vincent Chetail provides a critical assessment of the interactions between international refugee law and human rights law. Although refugee law and human rights law were initially conceived as two distinct branches of public international law, their multifaceted interaction is now well acknowledged in both state practice and the scholarly literature. However, the normative impact of their relationships has been rarely considered via a systemic perspective. Vincent Chetail explores the relations between refugee law and human rights law from a holistic and critical angle.

Bioethics and Basic Rights: Persons, Humans, and Boundaries of Life by Judit Sándor
Judit Sándor examines the connections between bioethics and basic rights partly by analyzing the basic legal norms of bioethics, and partly by comparing thematic cases from the jurisdictions of the European Court of Human Rights and the US Supreme Court, as well as some cases from other jurisdictions. She focuses on two major lines of thought in contemporary bioethics: the first is concerned with the boundaries of life (e.g., issues of embryo research, assisted reproduction, and end of life decisions) and the second is related to the contemporary exploration of the frontiers of the human body (issues such as the use of human tissues and human DNA for research and other purposes).

Human Rights and Social Work in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives by Obie Clayton and June Gary Hopps
At the heart of social work, human rights are a set of guiding principles that are interdependent and have implications for macro, mezzo, and micro policy, and practice. They can be best-understood vis-à-vis the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, increasingly referred to as customary international law; the covenants and declarations following it, such as the conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and reporting procedures, such as the filing of country reports on compliance. Obie Clayton and June Gary Hopps address how this powerful idea, which emerged from the ashes of World War II, emphasizes human dignity; non-discrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and rights to solidarity. The challenge is the creation of a human rights culture, which is a “lived awareness” of these principles in one’s mind, heart, and body. Doing so will require vision, courage hope, humility, and everlasting love, as the spiritual sage Crazy Horse reminds us.

The Sovereignty of Human Rights by Cathryn Costello
The Sovereignty of Human Rights advances a legal theory of international human rights that defines their nature and purpose in relation to the structure and operation of international law. Professor Macklem argues that the mission of international human rights law is to mitigate adverse consequences produced by the international legal deployment of sovereignty to structure global politics into an international legal order. The book contrasts this legal conception of international human rights with moral conceptions that conceive of human rights as instruments that protect universal features of what it means to be a human being.

Featured Image Credit: “Palais des Nations (Geneve)” by Eferrante. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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