Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy

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9780195381580: Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy
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In a troubled world where millions die at the hands of their own governments and societies, some states risk their citizens' lives, considerable portions of their national budgets, and repercussions from opposing states to protect helpless foreigners. Dozens of Canadian peacekeepers have died in Afghanistan defending humanitarian reconstruction in a shattered faraway land with no ties to their own. Each year, Sweden contributes over $3 billion to aid the world's poorest citizens and struggling democracies, asking nothing in return. And, a generation ago, Costa Rica defied U.S. power to broker a peace accord that ended civil wars in three neighboring countries--and has now joined with principled peers like South Africa to support the United Nations' International Criminal Court, despite U.S. pressure and aid cuts. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are alive today because they have been sheltered by one of these nations.

Global Good Samaritans looks at the reasons why and how some states promote human rights internationally, arguing that humanitarian internationalism is more than episodic altruism--it is a pattern of persistent principled politics. Human rights as a principled foreign policy defies the realist prediction of untrammeled pursuit of national interest, and suggests the utility of constructivist approaches that investigate the role of ideas, identities, and influences on state action. Brysk shows how a diverse set of democratic middle powers, inspired by visionary leaders and strong civil societies, came to see the linkage between their long-term interest and the common good. She concludes that state promotion of global human rights may be an option for many more members of the international community and that the international human rights regime can be strengthened at the interstate level, alongside social movement campaigns and the struggle for the democratization of global governance.

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About the Author:


Alison Brysk is Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of California-Irvine. She has authored or edited six books on international human rights. In 2007, she held the Fulbright Distinguished Visiting Chair in Global Governance at the University of Waterloo Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Review:


"Clear, cogent, accessible and balanced.... [It makes a] very significant and positive contribution to debates regarding human rights and the international order."--Human Rights Law Resource Centre Bulletin


"Global Good Samaritans strengthens Alison Brysk's claim to be the most conceptually creative and solidly grounded empirical social scientist writing about human rights. This is a path-breaking book with implications reaching far beyond its focus. It should be read by everyone with a serious interest in foreign policy and international relations."--Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University


"The study of human rights has for too long focused excessively, almost obsessively, on U.S. foreign policy. Alison Brysk's careful comparative study of some of the 'nice guys' of international human rights policy decisively shifts the focus. For teachers looking for cases to play off against the United States, and citizens interested in thinking about the broader possibilities of international human rights diplomacy, this will be not merely a welcome, but an essential book."--Jack Donnelly, Professor of International Relations, University of Denver


"Alison Brysk's important description of the Good Samaritan state introduces into the debate about the changing global order the reality that it is not just the U.S., Europe and the BRICs who are playing important roles. Smaller states, independent of the size of their armies and their modest economies, have punched well above their weight, introducing important new ideas, standards, practices, institutions and treaties. It is time to pay more attention to the Good Samaritans."--Lloyd Axworthy, Former Foreign Minister of Canada and President of The University of Winnipeg


"[T]his is an excellent book. It deserves a wide readership. ...Brysk is to be congratulated on providing a corrective to the all-too-common realist refrain that ethical foreign policies are not possible. Let us hope that scholars, activists, and policymakers pay attention to its conclusions." - Perspectives on Politics


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