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on 17 June 2009
Clapham puts forward a good base for anyone interested in studying or have some background reading on human rights. The use of cases and materials gives context, and it highlights some of the issues within the discourse today. Definitely recommended as an introduction to the subject
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on 17 April 2011
This is a parson's egg of a book. The bulk of the book (from chapter 2 onwards) paints an instructive picture of the development of the concepts and legalities of human rights following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The author also discusses how conflicts have arisen between the strands of human rights' reasoning, then comments on various approaches to resolving these conflicts.

The book fails, however, to establish any foundation for the concept of human rights. The first chapter raises three of the classic challenges: first, that such reasoning is `nonsense on stilts' (Bentham); second, that human rights ideas merely arise from Western powers passing off their own ideas of rights as universal (Sen); and third, and as a result, that the concept of human rights is an attempt to set up unwarranted `pre-legal moral claims' (Sen). Having raised these issues, however, Clapham then largely ignores them.

Those seeking a brief history of the development of human rights over the last sixty years will probably find this book informative. For those, like me, more interested in the philosophical foundations, the book is crucially flawed - hence two stars.
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on 27 January 2016
Fantastic introduction to the human rights topic. Very simple and easy to read. covered all the key points sufficiently.
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on 30 August 2012
The review by ZK is very perceptive. It is also significant that the edition is now nearly six years old, and hence the many human-rights issues that have hit the headlines in recent years are not directly discussed. A revised edition that takes into account ZK's criticisms, that explores very contemporary cases, and that is couched in language that is more precise and sensitive, would be invaluable.

Brian Gale.
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on 30 March 2014
There is nothing to take away from this pocket sized handbook, it is what it says a VERY short introduction, it doesn't really provide any study guidance like nutshells books do but it provides enough information to write an essay introduction so can't complain.
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An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Professor Andrew Clapham brings together the differing contemporary strands of human rights issues we face today. He does so in a very matter-of-fact way and makes the introduction just for the individual interested reader with his excellent ‘very short’ book format from OUP which is set out in a quick and readable fashion.

He covers such fascinating issues as the controversial incarceration of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the brutal ethnic cleansing being practiced in Darfur, to the widespread denial of equal rights to women in many areas of the world, and human rights violations which remain a constant presence in rolling news items and in our everyday lives at home and at work.

Clapham gives an international perspective to the task facing him, and focusing on highly topical issues such as torture, arbitrary detention, privacy, health, and discrimination topics relevant to all. This “Very Short Introduction on Human Rights” does assist readers to understand for themselves the controversies and complexities behind this vitally relevant issue.

The author looks at the philosophical justification for rights, the historical origins of human rights and how they are formed in law. He also explains what our human rights actually are, what they might be, and where the human rights movement is heading at the moment which will benefit a wide range of his readership.

This short book covers one main area of current interest very well: how the human rights movement has gained increasing attention internationally. The author explains the scope of human rights today, and how they are used in both national and international law.
The work is completely up-to-date. Human rights remain a most topical and controversial issue for all of us and recent national and world events mean that they have been regularly invoked and analysed.
Clapham looks at the past, the present, and the future of human rights, especially relevant in a general election year in the UK. Questions of whether human rights are under threat as they come to be seen by some as obstacles to peace, development and security are also well covered.
In the wider community, ties in law, philosophy, and politics, reveal the role played by human rights in the contemporary world and has a special significance for Andrew Clapham as he was, for six years, the Representative of Amnesty International at the United Nations in New York.
Today it’s usually not long before a problem gets expressed as a human rights issue! Taking this into account, an appeal to human rights in the face of injustice can be a heartfelt and morally justified demand for some, while for others it remains merely an empty slogan. Such a balance is well presented here in a most succinct manner!

These “Very Short Introductions” books form a series from OUP which present themselves as excellent primers for undergraduates. The series contains hundreds of titles in almost every conceivable subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. OUP has brought together expert authors who combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

We feel they are highly suitable starting points for students of law, moral and ethical philosophy, history and politics. And, of course, activists in civil society movements or those who seek an accessible introduction to human rights and their relevance to current events.

So “Clapham on Human Rights” can be summed up as one of the best titles we have read yet from OUP in this series, but we would say that because we are lawyers!
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on 14 November 2015
Great overview
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on 7 February 2016
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on 2 September 2012
Whatever one's political stance, human rights are of major importance in today's work. An understanding of them aids the informed voter on the background to the newspaper headlines that touch on these. I thus was disappointed in this book, which while presenting a framework of the development and impact of human rights, did not deviate much from the authors fixed opinion on these manners, his use of strawman arguments and his rather lopsided selection of historical sources. Overall, barely okay for a basic instruction but too infused by the author's own viewpoints.
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on 19 October 2012
This is a well written informative book. I am still reading it but I hasten to praise it because I have criticized a different book in the series. Charles Simmonds
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