In This Review

Human Rights In Africa: Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Human Rights In Africa: Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Edited by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im and Francis M. Deng
Brookings, 1990, 399 pp

How should proponents of international human rights respond to the charge frequently made in the non-Western world that the drive to apply universal standards of rights is a new form of Western cultural imperialism? This probing collection of essays tackles such contentious notions as the view that human rights are "Western," that Islamic culture should be brought in line with universal norms through a process of reform and that African cultural traditions provide little basis for a system of institutionally protected rights. The authors offer few answers, but succeed in deepening our appreciation of the problems and politics of rights questions. Readers looking for detailed discussions of individual African countries or particular rights abuses will not be satisfied; almost all the chapters address broad legal and political problems without much reference to specific cases.