Human rights are the only universally recognized system of contemporary values which, during the last 50 years, has been gradually developed and defined by all States in a comprehensive international legal framework. The international human rights regime is closely related to international peace and security, development and a global trend towards pluralist democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
International humanitarian and criminal law can today be considered as specific aspects of international human rights law, which after the end of the Cold War has become increasingly complex and difficult to oversee. The present textbook attempts to provide a first and at the same time comprehensive introduction to the idea and significance of human rights, its philosophical and theoretical foundations, historical development, the main structures and procedures of international human rights protection by the United Nations and regional organizations (Council of Europe, Organization of American States, African Union, OSCE and others), and modern trends, such as preventive mechanisms, international criminal law, human rights as essential elements of peace-keeping and peace-building operations, humanitarian intervention or the relationship between human rights and terrorism. The book perceives human rights as an inter-disciplinary topic and illustrates the theory of human rights with a considerable number of practical case-studies, graphics, statistics, procedural charts and textboxes. It serves as a textbook for students of law, political science, international relations and other academic fields related to human rights, but may as well be used as a first introduction for those working in the field, for NGO activists, legal practitioners and others interested in the fascinating world of universal human rights.
Manfred Nowak is Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights at the University of Vienna, UN expert on enforced disappearances, judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and chairperson of the European Master Programme on Human Rights and Democratization in Venice. He finished this textbook in June 2003 during his function as Olof Palme Visiting Professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the University of Lund.