Reclaiming Human Rights in a Changing World Order
By Christopher Sabatini
Brookings, 2022, 386 pp.
The rise of the post–World War II international human rights regime is one of the great achievements of the modern era. But today that regime—rules, processes, and institutions anchored in the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—is in trouble. Sabatini, the editor of this impressive volume of essays, argues that this regime has been strikingly resilient, surviving the Cold War, the unipolar dominance of the United States, and the current rise of the global South. Today, however, that regime faces threats from all directions. China and Russia have worked to undermine the global civil society groups that are the backbone of the human rights movement. The U.S.-Chinese rivalry has also sharpened the ideological divide over the definition of human rights and spilled into various UN venues. Populist politics in countries such as Brazil, the Philippines, Uganda, and even the United States have weakened the commitment of these states to human rights norms. The authors offer an extensive set of recommendations for how to push back, insisting that the protection of human rights can improve the lives of people everywhere.