National Rights, International Obligations

National Rights, International Obligations

by Simon Caney, David George
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


Nationalism is once again rising and spreading. Nationlist movements are active throughout the world, demanding political recognition of their nations’ identity. Yet the current revival of nationalism has taken place alongside claims that nation-states are becoming obsolete in an increasingly globalized world. In addition, now perhaps more than ever, people

Overview


Nationalism is once again rising and spreading. Nationlist movements are active throughout the world, demanding political recognition of their nations’ identity. Yet the current revival of nationalism has taken place alongside claims that nation-states are becoming obsolete in an increasingly globalized world. In addition, now perhaps more than ever, people are conscious of humanity as a whole and are ready to take seriously the international dimensions of morality.In this collection of timely essays, distinguished moral and political philosophers examine issues raised by the competing claims of nationhood and internationalism from a variety of perspectives, and defend a variety of answers. Questions discussed include: Is humanity really divided into nations or are nations invented by nationalists? Does a nation have the right to be self-determining? If so, must each nation form a separate and sovereign state? Do our obligations stop at national boundaries? Do we not have obligations to human beings as such? Why then should we be less concerned about “foreigners” than about our compatriots? Can we be concerned for social justice within societies yet not across the world as a whole? If we embrace ideas of human rights and global obligations, how do we establish what those rights and obligations actually are? Is it proper, plausible, or practical to aspire to such universal moral principles in a world characterized by national diversity and cultural difference?

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A book/disk package (requires IBM compatible computer, and word processing and spreadsheet software) originally prepared for environmental managers by an environmental manager, but having broader appeal as it fills the gap between abstract management texts and anecdotal accounts from industry practitioners. The first sections introduce readers to environmental management as visualized through Baldrige, Deming, and ISO 14001 frameworks. The final section contains tools for analysis, implementation, assessment, and study. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Clovis C. Morrisson
This book is a collection of revised papers delivered at a colloquium held at the University of Newcastle in January, 1995. With one exception, Yael Tamir, all contributors hold positions in colleges and universities in Great Britain, and they would all, I believe, consider themselves specialists in political philosophy. The general topics discussed in this collection include the moral significance, if any, of nationalism and its relationship to transnational rights and obligations of nations and people. It is a totally normative look at these topics. There is no thesis as such as the contributors approach these topics from different normative perspectives and arrive at different conclusions. The collective should be viewed as containing thoughtful and, for the most part, careful logical speculation about what constitutes a nation and why, if at all, members of a nation should be obliged to extend rights to nationals and others outside the nation. Ten of the twelve contributors offers thoughts on how to define a nation, and, in the main, each also states or implies that there are conceptual problems with virtually every such definition. Can we define as a nation those people who speak the same language? Worship the same gods? Live in the same territory? Possess the same racial characteristics? If no one such characteristic is sufficient, then how many of the others (or more) are necessarily held in common to denote a nation? Most of these contributors even reject this entire approach. Some argue that a shared history, coupled with similar physical characteristics should do the trick; others that a shared ideology is necessary. One states that common myths about the history, not the real history, is what sets some apart from others. Finally, a few throw up hands and conclude that a people are a nation if they think they are a nation--nationhood is self-determined. All reject the notion that nationhood must necessarily be associated with a state. But a few insist that there be some governing mechanisms in place for a people to be viewed as a nation, even if the mechanisms are sub-mechanisms of a larger state. While I find such normative speculation and logical discussion about how we should define the term nation interesting, and while it is certainly true that any discipline must strive to define its fundamental terms with great precision, I believe that main value of this collection lies in its last two chapters, by Chris Brown and by Peter Jones, in which the discussion moves to the questions of what rights people have regardless of national identities. Are there absolutely no universal norms that might be called international human rights? Or are there numerous such norms, perhaps a blend of political, social and economic rights? Or are there some such norms, with regional differences that can amount to differences of degree or even of kind? Debates have swirled around these three questions in treaty-drafting conventions ever since the end of World War II, and in the works of political philosophers for decades earlier. The positions and their problems are well-known. If universal rights are seen, they are usually seen by western and developed-world persons, and they tend to be the political rights found in such documents as the United States Constitution, the English Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Persons from the former Communist states and those still presently remaining emphasize the social and economic rights stressed in communist theory. Third world persons find the whole argument repressive of the rights of emerging peoples, amounting to cultural imperialism. What to do, what to do? Not much, yet, says Chris Brown. It is far too early for anything like an agreement to emerge. He tends to find the most likely victor will be a set of universal generalities with local or regional differences tolerated or even enshrined. There has been enough experience with the two major United Nations Declarations and the various regional arrangements that exist to lend some real world strength to his conclusions. A major philosophical attempt to map out such a universal law of human rights by John Rawls is discussed in the final chapter of this collection by Peter Jones. While finding some strengths in this attempt by Rawls, Jones is not optimistic that room can be found for some forms of tyrannical societies and some very ancient practices in Rawls' "political" rights. The many papers dealing with definitions of nationhood and peoplehood, written in late 1995, remind us that it is not likely we will ever agree on a model that solves all problems or even most serious ones. We may be a little closer to the end of the tunnel in trying to define rights that all must respect. For those who have not recently revisited these great debates, the work under review would be helpful. It could form an easy reference work for a graduate seminar in political philosophy dealing with the topic and, to a lesser extent, for such a seminar in international protection of human rights.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813329505
Publisher:
Westview Press
Publication date:
02/28/1996
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author


Simon Caney, David George, and Peter Jones are members of the Department of Politics at the University of Newcastle. Simon Caney, David George, and Peter Jones are members of the Department of Politics at the University of Newcastle. Simon Caney, David George, and Peter Jones are members of the Department of Politics at the University of Newcastle.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >