Individual Rights and the Making of the International System

Individual Rights and the Making of the International System

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Christian Reus-Smit
Cambridge University Press, 2013-08-29
EAN 9780521674485, ISBN10: 0521674484
244 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.2 cm

We live today in the first global system of sovereign states in history, encompassing all of the world's polities, peoples, religions and civilizations. Christian Reus-Smit presents a new account of how this system came to be, one in which struggles for individual rights play a central role. The international system expanded from its original European core in five great waves, each involving the fragmentation of one or more empires into a host of successor sovereign states. In the most important, associated with the Westphalian settlement, the independence of Latin America, and post-1945 decolonization, the mobilization of new ideas about individual rights challenged imperial legitimacy, and when empires failed to recognize these new rights, subject peoples sought sovereign independence. Combining theoretical innovation with detailed historical case studies, this book advances a new understanding of human rights and world politics, with individual rights deeply implicated in the making of the global sovereign order.

Advance praise: 'Chris Reus-Smit has written a groundbreaking book. By showing that, during the last five centuries, revolutionary ideas on individual rights were at the roots of the demand for sovereignty and de-legitimation of empires, and therefore, also of the expansion of international systems and the evolution of international order, [his] theoretical and empirical tour de force, more than most books in international relations, reveals the social nature of international systems and how international orders transform.' Emanuel Adler, Professor of Political Science and Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies, University of Toronto