Cover image for Human rights : the essential reference
Human rights : the essential reference
Devine, Carol, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Phoenix, Ariz. : Oryx Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 311 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
K3240.4 .H847 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Now, for the first time, there is a single reference work that documents the history of human rights worldwide, clearly explains each article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and examines the major human rights issues facing the world today. Comprehensive in scope, Human Rights covers a broad range of human rights issues that are central to an understanding of world history and current affairs.

Author Notes

Carol Devine is a Canadian human rights professional. She has worked for national and international nongovernmental organizations such as Voices of Positive Women (Canada), the Diplomacy Training Program (Australia), and Medecins Sans Frontieres (international). Devine is the author of Determination: Tibetan Women and the Struggle for an Independent Tibet (1994). In 1995, she served as executive director of the VIEW Foundation, a Canadian nongovernmental organization that led the first civilian volunteer clean-up expedition to Antarctica.

Carol Rae Hansen is an international affairs and education consultant in the Washington, D.C. area. Her extensive government experience includes service with the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Commerce and Agriculture, as well as with the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the National Security Council, and the C.I.A. She has also been a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute and an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Hansen received her PhD in government from Harvard University, and her MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Ralph Wilde is an English barrister who is working as an academic and a practitioner in international law and human rights law. He has worked in this field for Senator Edward Kennedy in the U.S. Congress, at the UN in New York, for UNHCR as a human rights monitor in Kenya, and for the law firm Shearman & Sterling. He was recently the Henry Fellow at Yale University and a visiting scholar at Yale Law School.

Hilary Poole is a writer and editor specializing in the social sciences. Most recently she coauthored History of the Internet: A Chronology, 1843 to the Present . She served as managing editor for Sexuality and Cyberspace: Performing the Digital Body . Poole also served on the editorial board of the journal Women and Performance and was a frequent editor and contributor. She is a graduate of Brown University.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Every day the news media bombard us with stories about human rights violations. We are increasingly aware of the status of human rights in Angola, Argentina, Chile, China, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and even in the U.S. Intended for high-school and college students, these two reference sources are designed to provide information and support research in this important area. Over the past ten years, Langley, author of Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues since 1945, has written a number of books that have added to our knowledge of international human rights and the reasons why governments have, time and time again, sought to disguise the true meaning of those rights or to employ force and brutality to mute if not eliminate their expression. The encyclopedia begins with an introduction describing the events since 1945 that have defined the directions of international human rights discussion and action. The introduction is followed by a user's guide, a list of abbreviations, a chronology of significant dates in the field of human rights, and, finally, an alphabetical set of more than 400 entries with discussion and, usually, suggestions for further reading. Entry length ranges from a half-page to just over two pages. Topics include rights (e.g., Health, Marriage and the family, Privacy); terms and concepts (Indigenous peoples, Sovereignty, Standard of living); violations (Apartheid, Capital punishment, Land mines); human rights instruments, such as various United Nations commissions and declarations; institutions and organizations; and some individuals, among them Rodney King, Slobodan Milosevic, and Eleanor Roosevelt. In addition, there are entries for more than 50 nations. Following the entries are a list of human rights organizations, the texts of the International Bill of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a glossary, and an index. Covering some of the same ground is Human Rights: The Essential Reference, which provides information on human rights before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (even back to ancient Greece), the declaration itself, and the post-WWII human rights movement. Arrangement is thematic, although there are A^-Z entries in some of the chapters. The sections on contemporary human rights include details on the work of intergovernmental organizations, the activities of nongovernmental organizations, biographical information on individuals who have had a significant impact on human rights (only a handful of whom also have entries in Langley), and short essays on some of the most pressing contemporary human rights issues, from AIDS/HIV to Traffic in women and girls. Information is accurate up to December 1998. Contributors come from vastly different backgrounds, interests, and viewpoints. A time line, selected United Nations documents, list of sources for further reading, and an index conclude the volume. Reference librarians are probably familiar with Edward Lawson's Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Taylor & Francis, 1991), a compendium that brings together material about international, regional, and national activities undertaken between the years 1945 and 1990 to promote and protect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by everyone without distinction. Weighing in at nearly 2,000 pages, Lawson's work is significantly more comprehensive than the titles being reviewed, and the central core of information provided is superb. Although the Lawson title is, overall, more successful in its objective presentation of basic human rights documentation, academic, public, or high-school librarians may find a need to either update their reference collections in this area or to supplement their collections with more accessible resources. For those with such needs, the Board recommends Human Rights: The Essential Reference for its broad overview and the somewhat more academic Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues since 1945 for its dictionary-style treatment. Librarians will want to make sure that their collections also include compilations containing the text of the major human rights instruments, related conventions, declarations, and protocols. One example of such a comprehensive source that focuses on those instruments that are global in scope is Human Rights: Sixty Major Global Instruments (McFarland, 1992). Two earlier works include Richard Lillich's International Human Rights Instruments (2d ed., Hein, 1990) and Ian Brownlie's Basic Documents on Human Rights (3d ed., Oxford, 1993). An additional title to round out collections in this area is the Dictionary of International Human Rights Law (Scarecrow, 1996), which provides the reader with the sources, definitions, landmarks, and cross-references for 64 rights in international treaties and 4 "declared" rights as well.

Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-As most discussions in the political, economic, and social arena have a human-rights component, it is refreshing to find such a fine addition to the reference literature. This volume is divided into four sections; the first "traces the evolution of our modern concept of human rights" beginning with the ancient Greeks and continuing through World War II to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Part two is a thorough examination of this historical document, article by article. Part three provides a detailed overview of the contemporary human-rights movement through essays and alphabetical entries on various government and nongovernmental agencies as well as biographical profiles of numerous activists. The final section consists of short essays on 33 of the most pressing human-rights issues today, including: "AIDS/HIV," "Child Soldiers," the "Death Penalty," and "Indigenous Peoples." Black-and-white photographs are scattered throughout. An appendix offers the text of eight United Nations documents and an extensive index facilitates access. A specialized resource without an equal.-Marsha S. Holden, Highland Community College, Freeport, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Oryx's handy reference source provides brief, easy-to-read, textbook-like summaries of four areas: history of human rights theory prior to 1948; the seminal Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the contemporary human rights movement (including succinct information about organizations and 38 noted activists); and contemporary issues (AIDS/HIV to traffic in women and girls). The nine contributors, not widely known, rely on others' scholarship but write clearly and briefly. Surprisingly, the editors publish the texts of declarations on the rights of the child, on elimination of racial discrimination, on discrimination against women, and on torture, rather than the far more important legally binding conventions on these subjects. Other glaring omissions (e.g., the International Commission of Jurists, the Open Society Institute, or human rights activist Aryeh Neier) suggest that more care should have been taken. Nevertheless, the book is more user-friendly and wider ranging than, for example, Thomas Buergenthal's International Human Rights in a Nutshell (1988; 2nd ed., 1995), Understanding Human Rights, ed. by Conor Gearty and Adam Tomkins (CH, Sep'96), Charles Humana's World Human Rights Guide (CH, Sep'84, Oct'96; 3rd ed., 1992), or Lucille Whalen's Human Rights: A Reference Handbook (CH, Jun'90; 2nd ed., 1998). The present book will be most useful for general readers and lower-division undergraduates. C. E. Welch; SUNY at Buffalo

Table of Contents

Human Rights Before 1948
A History of Human Rights
Theory The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
An Overview of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
An Analysis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Contemporary Human Rights Movement
An Overview of the Human Rights Movement Government Organizations
Nongovernmental Organizations Human Rights
Activists Contemporary Human Rights Issues
United Nations Documents Further Reading