The emergence of peoples' rights in international relations / by William F. Felice.
This thesis is concerned with the evolution and development of the ideas of "peoples' rights" in international relations both theoretically and practically. There is much controversy surrounding the conception of peoples' rights. In practice, the ideas have been used at times to rationalize supremacist notions and aggressive and even genocidal actions by nation-states. On the other hand, when utilized by "peoples" striving to articulate conditions of exploitation and oppression the ideas have often successfully provided a useful political language to clarify issues of social justice. The thesis explores the following questions: Are the ideas of peoples' rights a progressive and important development in international relations which help to define justifiable claims of peoples' denied basic rights? Do these ideas help conceptualize a future society free of exploitation and oppression by establishing certain "preconditions" necessary in this era for such a vision to become actualized? What is the relationship of the conception of peoples' rights to the major theoretical paradigms of the twentieth century, Marxism and liberalism? How much of a challenge does the establishment of international "norms" like peoples' rights present to the primacy of nation-state "sovereignty" in the international system? The first chapter explains the expanded definition of peoples' rights and the evolution of the concept from 1945 to 1991. The second chapter examines the positive and negative uses of "peoples rights," with Hitler and South Africa on one side and certain indigenous and gender struggles on the other. The third chapter looks at the most universally accepted of peoples' right, self-determination. The fourth chapter reviews the relationship between liberal theory and peoples' rights, and asserts that the ideas of peoples' rights address structural and economic factors that are often ignored in liberal theories. The fifth chapter explores the compatibility of Marxist theory and the ideas of peoples' rights, analyzing: class analysis, the methodology of dialectics, and a future vision of rich individuality. The sixth chapter examines "poststructuralism" and peoples' rights. And the final chapter looks at the role of peoples' rights in helping to define a "counter-hegemony" to prevailing ideological norms.
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