Just as Mark Twain said in 1897, “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” many commentators have prematurely reported the death of human rights. For example, in 1999, in The Theory and Reality of the Protection of International Human Rights , J. Shand Watson sees human rights as a “mere fiction” in light of a century of state-sponsored killing. One year later, Costas Douzinas, through an appeal to history, philosophy, and psychoanalysis proclaimed the “end of human rights.” It is thus no surprise that the article by Joshua Kurlantzick is yet another attempt to warn us that human rights have met their match, that leading states in the world are ignoring them, and that the “downfall” of human rights is upon us. His context is the late 2009 Obama trip to China, during which the rights agenda was downplayed, a trend within the world that he says is gaining strength as states turn their attention to surviving the economic crisis and other “realist” interests.

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