International Human Rights


Jack Donnelly and Daniel J. Whelan

Fifth Edition • July 12, 2017 • 288 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813349480 • $40.00 USD$51.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813349497 • $25.99 USD$32.99 CAN

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International Human Rights examines the ways in which states and other international actors have addressed human rights since the end of World War II. This unique textbook features substantial attention to theory, history, international and regional institutions, and the role of transnational actors in the protection and promotion of human rights. Its purpose is to explore the difficult and contentious politics of human rights, and how those political dimensions have been addressed at the national, regional, and especially international levels.

The fifth edition is substantially revised throughout, including updates on multilateral institutions, particularly the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process, regional systems, human rights in foreign policy (including a chapter on U.S. policy), humanitarian intervention, globalization, and (anti)terrorism and human rights. The book also includes a new chapter on the unity of human rights, and new case studies exploring the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures mechanisms, Myanmar, and Israeli settlements in West-Bank Palestine. Chapters include discussion questions, case studies for in-depth examination of topics, and ten “problems” tailored to promote classroom discussion on topics such as the war in Syria, hierarchies between human rights, and much more.


Jack Donnelly is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations at the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Daniel J. Whelan is Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Hendrix College.

Part 1: History and Theory
Chapter 1: Human Rights in Global Politics: Historical Perspective
Chapter 2: Theories of Human Rights
Chapter 3: The Relative Universality of Human Rights
Chapter 4: The Unity of Human Rights

Part 2: Multilateral, Bilateral and Transnational Action
Chapter 5: Global Multilateral Mechanisms
Chapter 6: Regional Human Rights Regimes
Chapter 7: Human Rights and Foreign Policy
Chapter 8: Human Rights in American Foreign Policy
Chapter 9: Transnational Human Rights Advocacy

Part 3: Contemporary Issues
Chapter 10. Humanitarian Intervention
Chapter 11: Globalization, the State, and Human Rights
Chapter 12. (Anti)Terrorism and Human Rights

“This splendid survey of the principles and practice of human rights is a welcome contribution to the canon. It is thorough, thoughtful, and comprehensive, providing an essential reference for human rights pedagogy and scholarship. The balance between norms, regime, and cases, coverage of contemporary issues, and dialectical approach make this edition an ideal introduction to human rights.” —Alison Brysk, UC Santa Barbara

“The preeminent introductory textbook for human rights courses by leading scholars of human rights…Comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date, with excellent specific problems and discussion questions and a chapter on terrorism and human rights in the post 9/11 world…A synthetic yet grounded introduction to human rights.” —Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University

“The new edition of Jack Donnelly’s classic textbook, thanks to Daniel Whelan’s new participation in the venture, maintains old reliability and seizes new opportunity. Aside from an entire extra chapter on the relation of different kinds of human rights to each other, teachers and students will find additional sections and case studies ripped from contemporary debates and news headlines, whether on celebrity human rights promotion, United Nations special procedures, recent humanitarian interventions, or ongoing counterterrorism. All told, it remains the best choice for the introductory human rights classroom.” —Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History

From Previous Editions:
“Examines the evolution of the international human rights regime with attention to the human agency at every level-the individual, the state, and the international system. The analysis of policy decisions that have culminated in action on human rights, or the violation of those rights, is both accessible to the student and true to the complex dynamics of an increasingly interconnected global arena.” —Julie Mazzei, Kent State University

“One of the best human rights texts available for the undergraduate classroom . . . well balanced between theory and practice and considers human rights both in different parts of the world and from different cultural perspectives.” —Dana Zartner, University of San Francisco

“The gold standard of human rights texts. Like its predecessors, the third edition is easily accessible and highly informative, and it has a great deal to offer the novice student but also the human rights expert.” —Mark Gibney, Belk Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina-Asheville

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