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By Christian Reus-Smit

We are living this day within the first international method of sovereign states in heritage, encompassing all the world's polities, peoples, religions and civilizations. Christian Reus-Smit offers a brand new account of the way the program got here to be, one within which struggles for person rights play a imperative function. The overseas procedure extended from its unique eu center in 5 nice waves, each one related to the fragmentation of 1 or extra empires right into a host of successor sovereign states. within the most vital, linked to the Westphalian cost, the independence of Latin the US, and post-1945 decolonization, the mobilization of recent rules approximately person rights challenged imperial legitimacy, and while empires did not realize those new rights, topic peoples sought sovereign independence. Combining theoretical innovation with unique old case reviews, this ebook advances a brand new knowing of human rights and global politics, with person rights deeply implicated within the making of the worldwide sovereign order.

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2 Because of this, rights claims asserted in trivial contexts sound jarring. Insisting that someone give back my pencil because I have a property right to it is not necessarily wrong, it is just an overreaction. 4 We are concerned here with a particular kind of rights: individual rights, the rights of sole persons. These contrast, most obviously, with collective rights; the rights of groups, as groups. Individual rights divide into two broad categories. The first is ‘special’ rights. These are rights that individuals have because of special transactions or because 1 2 3 4 Henry Shue, Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and US Foreign Policy, 2nd edn.

In the Westphalian, Latin American, and post-1945 waves of expansion, subject peoples embraced local interpretations of new, distinctly modern conceptions of individual rights and challenged the traditional distribution of entitlements that sustained imperial hierarchy. Initially they sought imperial reform, or rights within empire. But in each case a tipping point was reached when the imperial system proved incapable of accommodating the new rights claims, and when subject peoples turned from ‘voice’ to ‘exit’.

24 These institutional structures serve to naturalize hierarchy, making the unequal distribution of social powers and the resulting social order appear both normal and rightful. Second, the legitimacy of imperial hierarchy, and its attendant institutional structures, have been rationalized by the legitimation practices of metropolitan elites and their local collaborators. 25 The empires that concern us here – the Holy Roman, the Spanish, and Europe’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century empires – were all different, of course.

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