A review of The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change, edited by Thomas Risse, Steve C. Ropp, and Kathryn Sikkink. New York: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, 66) 1999. 308pp.

The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is now some fifty years behind us. Perhaps now is the time to focus less on which aspects of the political and private realms should fall under the domain of human rights, and more on the effect of the human rights discourse on the harmonization of state behavior. We presently live in a world replete with a wide range of human rights treaties that seem to clearly outline the appropriate norms of state behavior. However, the real impact of the human rights discourse on effectuating changes in state behavior has largely gone unstudied in a truly systematic fashion. In The Power of Human Rights, editors Thomas Risse, Stephen Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink attempt to fill this void by constructing a “spiral model” of the internalization of human rights norms and practices.

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