The United Nations and Human Rights: A Guide for a New Era (Global Institutions)

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9781138940376: The United Nations and Human Rights: A Guide for a New Era (Global Institutions)

Julie Mertus’ highly acclaimed text continues to be the only completely up-to-date comprehensive yet succinct guide to the United Nations human rights system.

Today, virtually all UN bodies and specialized agencies are undertaking efforts to incorporate the promotion or protection of human rights into their programs and activities. The United Nations and Human Rights examines these recent initiatives within the broader context of human rights practice, including the promotion of individual rights, management of international conflict and the advancement of agendas of social movements.

The fully revised and updated third edition not only provides a complete guide to the development, structure and procedures within the UN human rights system, but also reflects the vital changes that have occurred within the UN system, devoting considerable attention to expanding the range of issues discussed, including:

  • coverage of major developments within the treaty body system, including the establishment of the new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • evaluation of the increased attention paid to human rights in the context of the Post 2015 development goals

  • examination and analysis of the establishment of UN Women and the relevance of the increased focus on gender issues and the rights of women to the UN Human Rights system

  • increased attention on human rights conventions and their intersection with ILO Conventions as well as developments with the Global Compact

  • focus on issues of increasing global importance such as human rights in the context of infectious diseases and recent global health epidemics

A superb addition to any human rights syllabus, this book maintains its position as essential reading for students and practitioners of human rights, international relations and international law.

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Praise for 2nd Edition:


Julie Mertus is a rare academic, one who combines serious scholarship with extensive experience of human rights practice and the ability to communicate her passion for her subject-matter to a wide audience. Her concise and readable work was widely welcomed when it appeared in 2005, and this new edition will not disappoint. She has now provided an incisive and informed response to the Human Rights Council and the Global Compact, as well as bringing the whole text up to date. As Mertus concludes, "the promise of human rights remains unfulfilled"; but she shows how the United Nations is working, against the odds, to turn ideals into practice. Students, activists and scholars will all benefit from this splendid short guide. - Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

About the Author:

Julie Mertus is Professor at American University, Washington DC, USA. She is the author or editor of ten books, including Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy, named "human rights book of the year" by the American Political Science Association) and, most recently Human Rights Matters: Local Politics and National Human Rights Institutions and The United Nations and Human Rights. Before entering academia, she worked as a researcher, writer and lawyer for several human rights and humanitarian organizations.

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