The International Human Rights Movement: A History

Aryeh Neier (Author)


During the past several decades, the international human rights movement has had a crucial hand in the struggle against totalitarian regimes, cruelties in wars, and crimes against humanity. Today, it grapples with the war against terror and subsequent abuses of government power. In The International Human Rights Movement, Aryeh Neier--a leading figure and a founder of the contemporary movement--offers a comprehensive and authoritative account of this global force, from its beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to its essential place in world affairs today. Neier combines analysis with personal experience, and gives a unique insider's perspective on the movement's goals, the disputes about its mission, and its rise to international importance.

Discussing the movement's origins, Neier looks at the dissenters who fought for religious freedoms in seventeenth-century England and the abolitionists who opposed slavery before the Civil War era. He pays special attention to the period from the 1970s onward, and he describes the growth of the human rights movement after the Helsinki Accords, the roles played by American presidential administrations, and the astonishing Arab revolutions of 2011. Neier argues that the contemporary human rights movement was, to a large extent, an outgrowth of the Cold War, and he demonstrates how it became the driving influence in international law, institutions, and rights. Throughout, Neier highlights key figures, controversies, and organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and he considers the challenges to come.

Illuminating and insightful, The International Human Rights Movement is a remarkable account of a significant world movement, told by a key figure in its evolution.

-- "Kirkus Reviews"

Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
April 22, 2012
6.4 X 1.2 X 9.2 inches | 1.54 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Aryeh Neier is president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and distinguished visiting professor at the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po. Previously he was executive director of Human Rights Watch and executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. A contributor to many major publications, he is the author of Taking Liberties and War Crimes, among other books.


Neier . . . has the credentials to tell the story of the movement's philosophical roots, its nature and strength and its goals, challenges, successes and failures. . . . A fact-filled, well-documented, pull-no-punches account by an insider.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
The International Human Rights Movement: A History is a first-class, insightful resource for understanding a vital phenomenon and an approach to humanity and human relations that is essential to the realization of a better world. Neier skillfully transforms his readers into witnesses of the most important period of our moral evolution, and coopts them into taking responsibility for its eventual success.---Michael Allen Fox, International Journal on World Peace-- "Kirkus Reviews"
[H]ere is an honest version of a vital social movement from a man who was there in the front when the crowd was first gathering and has been at the head of various bits of it ever since.---Conor Gearty, International Affairs-- "Kirkus Reviews"
[L]essons can be learned when we link Neier's assessment of the consequences of strengthened human rights and humanitarian law with a new body of academic work on the consequences of human rights. . . . All along, Neier's movement perspective and his lived experience at the center of the international human rights movement provide further inspiration to scholars, illustrating the potential benefits from Pasteur's Quadrant in the field of human rights research.---Joachim J. Savelsberg, Law & Social Inquiry-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Neier, a longtime official for the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and Open Society Foundations, has written a personalized history of private action for human rights in world affairs. . . . [T]he book is a useful primer for those unfamiliar with human rights developments.-- "Choice"
The dialectic between Eastern courage and Western organization deserves a historian and it has found one in Aryeh Neier, a figure who helped to make the history he writes. . . . With Aryeh Neier's retirement from the Open Society Foundations, the human rights movements marks the end of an era, and his book on the history of the movement is an occasion to reflect on how far the movement has come and what it must do next. . . . [Neier] and the thousands of people he drew into the movement have demonstrated what discipline, toughness, professionalism, and integrity can accomplish when up against the despots of our time.---Michael Ignatieff, New York Review of Books-- "Choice"