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Realism: Human Rights Foe?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Koldo Casla



This chapter appraises Realism from a human rights perspective. The first section introduces the conventional view according to which realism, with its focus on the state, material power and international anarchy, would dismiss the idea that human rights could matter at all in global politics. The second section provides an alternative perspective. There are at least three ways in which human rights can survive and indeed flourish in a world guided by classical realist parameters. I contend, first, that realism creates the space for a political critique of international law, which helps us understand the political reasons why certain claims get framed in the language of human rights law. Secondly, realism advises restraint in the use of military force, leading potentially to better human rights outcomes. Finally, realism can also allow us to theorise about a certain idea of order guided by international rules defined by states themselves.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Casla K

Editor(s): Orsi, D; Avgustin, JR; Nurnus, M

Publication type: Book Chapter

Book Title: Realism in Practice: An Appraisal

Year: 2018

Pages: 143-155

Online publication date: 12/12/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Print publication date: 12/12/2017

Publisher: E-International Relations

Place Published: Bristol, England


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781910814376


Link to this publication