Culture, Relativism and Human Rights

Book Chapter
Kevin Avruch
Kevin Avruch
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Culture, Relativism and Human Rights
Authors: Kevin Avruch
Editor: Julie Mertus and Jeffery Helsing
Pages: 97- 120
Published Date: December 06, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-929223-77-0
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The relationship between human rights and conflict is dynamic, complex, and powerful, constantly shaping and reshaping the course of both peace and war. Yet, despite its importance, our understanding of this relationship has long been fragmentary, chiefly because three different schools of thought—human rights, conflict resolution, and international law—have offered three different and often contradictory perspectives.

This much-needed volume brings these perspectives together to create a composite picture of the relationship between human rights and conflict. The book’s distinguished contributors do not disguise the differences among them—indeed, some chapters are followed by commentaries offering an alternative view of the same subject—but they also explore the numerous ways in which human rights advocates, negotiators, peacebuilders, and relief agencies can advance and reinforce each other’s work.

Human Rights and Conflict is divided into three parts, each capturing the role played by human rights at a different stage in the conflict cycle. From human rights abuses that precipitate violence, through third-party interventions and humanitarian relief efforts, to the negotiation of peace agreements and the building of peace, the volume lays out the actors and issues involved and analyzes the attendant dynamics and dilemmas.

Comprehensive, authoritative, and highly readable, this volume is an invaluable resource for professors and their students. With its cutting-edge analyses and timely coverage (of Iraq and counterterrorism measures, for instance), it also offers considerable food for thought for seasoned practitioners and advocates.

Julie Mertus, a former senior fellow at the Institute, is an associate professor at American University. Jeffrey W. Helsing is a program officer and Middle East specialist in the Institute’s Education Program.

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