Cover image for Encyclopedia of human rights issues since 1945
Encyclopedia of human rights issues since 1945
Langley, Winston.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxix, 392 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JC571 .L2747 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This outstanding, comprehensive, and up-to-date encyclopedia on human rights issues from 1945 to 1998 features more than 400 entries on incidents and violations, instruments and initiatives, countries and human rights activists. Its global scope is ideal for high school and college student research and class debate and for use with Model UN clubs. More than fifty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, much has been accomplished on a global scale, particularly by the United Nations, to protect the rights of all people, but many human rights violations continue to be perpetrated. Langley, an internationally recognized expert on human rights, has provided the most current information on both the progress of human rights activities and the continuing incidents of human rights violations around the globe.

Entries cover major issues, incidents and violations, concepts and terms, activists, organizations, and human rights instruments. Entries on more than fifty nations from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia were selected based on the incidence of major human rights in those nations. Comprehensive cross-references in each entry make it easy to research a topic and its related entries easily. Each entry concludes with a selected list of further reading for more in-depth research. A timeline of significant dates since 1945 in the field of human rights and the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights add reference value.

Author Notes

WINSTON E. LANGLEY is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He specializes in human rights and is the co-author with Vivian C. Fox of Women's Rights in the United States: A Documentary History (Greenwood, 1994), which received the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America award for the Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America. He is also author of Human Rights: The Major Global Instrument (1992) and Women's Rights in International Documents (1991).

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.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-A timely addition to reference shelves. Alphabetical entries covering the post-World War II era include pertinent documents, people, nations, organizations, and incidents, and cover such topics as "Affirmative Action," "Chechnya," and the "Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons." Within each entry, cross-references are indicated by bold print. Almost all conclude with further reading. Frequently quoting current documents that govern the international community's response to human-rights issues, the author demonstrates how the world has moved from the "moral depravity of World War II" to the prosecution of war criminals in Rwanda. "The International Bill of Human Rights" and the "Convention on the Rights of the Child" are appended. Librarians will want to purchase this work as an enhancement to Carol Devine's excellent Human Rights (Oryx, 1999), which focuses on law and practice.-Joanne K. Cecere, Highland High School, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Researchers will find this comprehensive encyclopedia exceptionally useful because it maintains objectivity without reducing definitions to jargonistic legalisms, does not engage in advocacy verging on special claims, covers recent events, and is written with clarity and precision. The collection reflects the evolution of human rights from its earliest conception of civil and political rights, through the generational development of economic and social rights, to more recent "solidarity rights" affecting groups--e.g., the rights of women. Categories include major human rights violations (e.g., apartheid and genocide), human rights issues ("ethnic cleansing," "land mine"), types of rights ("fair trial," "affirmative action"), major international declarations (International Bill of Human Rights, reprinted in an appendix), countries where major violations of human rights have occurred (East Timor, Rwanda), and types of violations (sexual harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention). Each topic includes cross-references to relevant headings as well as bibliographic citations to major sources or analyses; an excellent index includes subtopics in main headings. Belongs in every major reference collection. M. E. Doro; Connecticut College

Table of Contents

Guide to Users Significant Dates in the Field of Human Rights The Encyclopedia
Glossary Selected Human Rights Groups
The International Bill of Human Rights