Here in a nutshell readers may find a description of the most important characteristics of human rights, and a clear and concise discussion of the problem of making human rights real and not just hypothetical. Building on definitions of human rights used by the United Nations and other international bodies, the author describes the main characteristics of the system of human rights (universality, interdependence, differences between types of rights, absolute or limited rights, the subjects of rights – individuals or groups, the link between rights and the judicial system and between rights and democracy). He then discusses some of the instruments we can use to promote respect for human rights, the means by which we might make these rights real for a greater portion of humanity. Along the way, he analyzes some of the related controversies regarding sovereignty, international intervention, and globalization and questions of cultural imperialism as they bear upon human rights. Do we have a right to impose rights – or to defend ourselves from such intervention? This systematic discussion presents a complex and difficult topic in an understandable framework accessible to the general public, and will stand as a useful foundation for readings of more specialized scientific, legal and philosophical works. Where most human rights books for the nonspecialist focus on specific instances of rights abuses, this work provides a more general approach focused on the logic in the system of human rights. * Filip Spagnoli obtained his PhD at the University of Brussels. He has written numerous OpEd articles in leading Belgian newspapers and specialized articles in philosophical periodicals, and two books, Homo Democraticus, On the Universal Desirability but the Not So Universal Possibility of Democracy and Human Rights (2003); and Democratic Imperialism, A Practical Guide, 2004). Employed by the research and statistics directorate of the Belgian Central Bank, Spagnoli is a guest speaker at conferences and universities and has participated in European Commission study visits to Eastern European countries with the aim of delivering statistical expertise and helping these countries to achieve membership of the European Union.
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