Left Against Rights: A Review of Douzinas, Human Rights and Empire

11 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2008

See all articles by Jeanne L. Schroeder

Jeanne L. Schroeder

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Date Written: March 2008


Costas Douzinas has written a book that has something to infuriate just about everyone - human rights activists, neo-cons, liberals, cosmopolitans, anti-globalizationists, international lawyers, proponents of NATO's intervention in Kosovo, supporters of the American intervention in Iraq, and everyone else in between. I mean that as high praise.

In 2000, the author published a book declaring the end of human rights which, not surprisingly, stirred up considerable controversy among the ranks of human rights advocates. One went so far as to call it repugnant. Douzinas neither adopts a pragmatic limitation on rights nor makes the type of simplistic attacks on rights associated with the American Critical Legal Studies movement of the 1980's. To the contrary, Douzinas passionately desires rights. He believes, however, that human-rights talk, as it has developed, is itself part of the problem. Being both intellectually vacuous and philosophically incoherent, it serves as a tool for rationalizing the exercise of power.

Consequently, Douzinas is trying to save rights from human rights. This is an impassioned but rigorous philosophical exploration of what rights might mean in a post-modern, post-9/11 world.

Keywords: human rights, critical theory, international law

Suggested Citation

Schroeder, Jeanne L., Left Against Rights: A Review of Douzinas, Human Rights and Empire (March 2008). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 225. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1104773 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1104773

Jeanne L. Schroeder (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0211 (Phone)
212-790-0205 (Fax)

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