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Release: Jan. 24, 2000

Scholars pen essays that envision future of international human rights

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Various human rights scholars, including a University of Iowa emeritus professor, have contributed to produce a book of essays that imagines the future of international human rights. The book is an outgrowth of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, a yearlong commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights held at the UI last year.

Burns Weston, UI College of Law professor emeritus, and Stephen P. Marks, Harvard University professor of health and human rights, collaborated to edit "The Future of International Human Rights," a book that the editors say "provides for active discourse among and across a wide range of people." The book contains a forward written by Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a poetic prologue by Marvin Bell, Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters, UI Writers' Workshop.

The essays reflect upon the last 50 years of international human rights experience, analyze and assess emerging domains of international human rights law and practice and recommend innovative approaches to the enhancement of international human rights norms, institutions, and procedures for the future.

"The Future of International Human Rights" was conceived as a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the essays, the editors say, "are as diverse as the origins and identities of their authors. At the same time, they share a common commitment to the global quest for a legal, moral, and political culture that is based on universal respect for internationally recognized human rights."

"The Future of International Human Rights" is published by Transnational Publishers, Inc, New York, and is available now from the publisher, at a discount at Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, and online at

The essays and their contributors include: "A Half Century of Human Rights: Geopolitics and Values," Professor Richard Falk, Princeton University; "Capabilities, Human Rights, and the Universal Declaration," Professor Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago; "The Universality of Human Rights in a Multicultured World: Toward Respectful Decision-Making," Professor Burns Weston; "Voices of Suffering, Fragmented Universality, and the Future of Human Rights," Professor Upendra Baxi, University of Warwick (United Kingdom); "Contesting Globalization: A Feminist Perspective on the Future of Human Rights," Anne Orford, University of Melbourne (Australia).

Also included are: "Globalization and Human Rights: Clash of Universal Aspirations and Special Interests," Senior Advocate Kamal Hossain, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; "Reflections on the Future of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights," Professor Yozo Yokota, University of Tokyo; "Reflections on the Future of Civil and Political Rights," Professor Rein Mullerson, King's College (London); "Strengthening the Norms of International Humanitarian Law to Combat Impunity," Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, De Paul University; "The United Nations and Human Rights: The Promise of Multilateral Diplomacy and Action," Professor Stephen Marks; "The Promise of Regional Human Rights Systems," Professor Dinah Shelton, University of Notre Dame; "Reconciliation and Justice: The South Africa Experience," Professor John Dugard, Leiden University (Netherlands); and "Human Rights and the Promise of Transnational Civil Society," Professor Julie A. Mertus, Ohio Northern University.