Human Rights

New Book: Corporations are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements

Posted on February 2, 2012. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , |


Check this out on AMAZON: Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It
A great read…so far.

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Human Rights Book Review – ‘Death to the Dictator! – A Young Man Casts a Vote in Iran’s 2009 Election and Pays a Devastating Price’ by Afsaneh Moqadam

Posted on June 20, 2010. Filed under: Books, Events, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Iranian Elections 2009, June 12th. Mohsen Abbaspour, a typically youthful fellow in his 20’s — not especially politically opinionated, or driven to great successes, or sophisticated — takes part in the very first election of his lifetime in Iran’s 10th presidential vote in Tehran.  Sick and tired with soaring joblessness and rising cost of living, he supports the reformist party and their nominee, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mohsen feels his vote can make a difference.

Death To The Dictator - Afsaneh Moqadam

Death To The Dictator - Afsaneh Moqadam

It won’t. Practically the moment the poll closes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares himself the winner with a clear majority (supposedly 62%)  and therefore President. As the West moves quickly to comprehend the brazen fraudulence involved in the election, Abbaspour, together with his relatives, acquaintances and neighborhood friends, shall go through a feeling of complete despair, and after that another thing: an ever more clearer and perhaps more raw human emotion—the beginnings of fury. They march and protest, just like millions of other Iranians who streamed onto the street,  protesting loudly yet peacefully with words such as, “Down with the tyrant!” and  “Death to the Dictator”. Mohsen Abbaspour shall be embroiled within the irrepressible and eventual disastrous sequence of occurrences. Moshen himself is imprisoned, brutally beaten and raped.

Along the lines of Phillip Gourevitchs ‘We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families’ and Ryszard Kapuscinski’s insightful dispatches, Death to the Dictator! shocks the reader using its tragic and heart wrenching  propinquity. The author, who goes by a pseudonym to safeguard his real identity,  became an eager and extremely brave eye witness to the events in Tehran throughout these tumultuous times of 2009 and after. Within this courageous and genuine accounts pages, we view what we’re not meant to view, and discover what we aren’t presumed to be aware of.

For those who were so shocked by these events on the nightly news and wish to know more of the human rights abuses, which add to Iran’s already appalling record, you will find this a compelling read.

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Book Review – ‘Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ by Jared Diamond

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Jared M. Diamond;
Viking Press.
ISBN10: 0143036556 ISBN13: 978-0143036555

Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed' by Jared Diamond

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Returning strongly following the triumph of his Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’, Jared Diamond’s latest work,

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ can be described as book of stimulating awareness of a coin’s flip side.

Whereas ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ analyzed the way several societies flourished, as a result of their particular geographical and ecological inheritance, this book has a look as to why ancient communities and societies have failed so frequently in past times, partly due to similar causes. 

To back up his particular theories, the author examines the inner workings of a diverse mix of earlier civilizations, such as the Anasazi from the American South-west, the Mayans as well as the colonial Vikings of Greenland to emphasize the point that geography or time have no respect or concern for collapsing societies. This is also the case in vice-versa.

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ also considers modern-day societies including Rwanda in order to put in plain english the devastation that not too long ago presented itself to this human rights bare, grief stricken country, along with detailed explanations of why an American state such as modern day Montana, once considered one of the wealthiest states in the USA, should now be among the least well off. Might Montana be described as a scaled down version of the greater United States? The implications are obvious.

Jared Diamond ponders how is it that at one time extremely advanced and  supposedly astute societies that engineered spectacular monuments as testament to their particular cultural and commercial adroitness, can abruptly disappear or be cursed with a sudden monumental impotence.

All the way through the authors numerous examples is the uneasy feeling that quite conceivably this type of destiny may also befall our very own modern westernised nations of supposed endless prosperity.   In actual fact,this is  the primary idea in this highly enjoyable and very intoxicating book.

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ intends to awaken our collective awareness for a comprehension of what exists before our eyes in order that we might, just maybe, be spared, as substaniated, by the stumbling blocks of our shared histories.  Essentially, we can not distinguish nor separate the environment from economies if we intend to counteract a ruinous destiny. The two are indivisible.

This maxim is no better demonstrated than  with the book’s commentary concerning the Ancient Pueblo People – the Anasazi. The ruins of their culture in now what is northern New Mexico indicate a highly advanced and systematic culture within a vulnerable desert surrounding whichsurvived about six hundred years.  Helping put this into perspective, these people held up for a longer period than every European culture inside the Americas up to now. Nevertheless, as time passed the Anasazi from the Chaco Canyon community grew to become increasingly skilled with responsibilities associated with their once successful community. As a result this granted them opportunities to make further and more efficient within their economy whilst also driving them culturally to be equally as interdependent. As time progresssed the Chaco Canyon complex depended increasingly more on communities on the periphery and outposts farther afield for extra help and sustenance, similar to a London or a Rome like city today.  The major metropolitan areas served as centers for religion and government facilitating the administration of their respective societal structures. 

‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’  details how, like numerous modern cities of today, Chaco Canyon grew to be a place where goods were imported, but rarely a place where tangibles were exported from.

When the number of people grew, similarly the demands relating to their environment grew. Energy supply and various necessary resources grew to become more and more remote; in conjunction with soil depletion and erosion in the adjoining farmlands. Essentially, the Ancient Pueblo Peoples grew to be ever more in the vicinity of dwelling at the edge of what the environment could realistically sustain.

The breaking point came with an extended period of drought.  Supporting and feeding themselves became next to impossible and their society all of a sudden disintegrated to the point of absolute civil breakdown, followed by uprisings, war, cannibalism and the eventual total abandonment of the Chaco Canyon site.
The moral message to take from this is the fact that even though these people implemented solutions which were remarkably effective and easy to undestand in the short-run,  deadly errors were perpetuated over a longer duration. Of course this can be seen as analogous to our own modern day circumstances of rampant consumerism with little care for the exploitation of our precious environment and the sucking dry of our finite natural resources.

Despite the fact that ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ may seem to solely come up with a powerful link between a failure of any society and the environment, it isn’t just about eco-cataclysms.  The author additionally quantifies four further significant components regarding the decline of societies at the same time; such as belligerent neighbours; lack of partners to trade with; climate change and probably most significantly, the response to opportunities and threats.   Within this line of thought, the book equally considers a number of historical successes where Japanese societies and the society of the  New Guinea highlands possessed the wisdom to alter elemental customary values and reestablish a beneficial harmony with nature, trading partners etc. and prosper.

The concluding thoughts of ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ are of caution but also hope for our own destiny.  Humankind, the author reiterates, is the main architect of our problems.

We likewise have the power to repair the dilemmas we have created.  It is not going to be easy and will demand deep-seated courage, so very necessary if we’re to hold hope and optimism in to our future.

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Book Review – Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez) by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer; Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez)
Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer;
Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.
ISBN10: 0743292030; ISBN13: 9780743292030

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

For over a decade Juárez, Mexico, a city adjacent to the Rio Grande El Paso, Texas continues to be the focal point for a sickening criminal offensive  towards the female population. Comprising of abductions, sexual assault, mutilation, mass murder, the majority of barbarous acts possess the same patterns or elements i.e.  females, youthful, slender, and victims of low socio-economic backgorunds – giving weight to one particular presumption: the fact that the murders are not haphazard or one-offs but by clearly by design. It is truly femicide on a mass scale.

Regardless of the countless police and military busts and raids throughout the previous decade or so, the homicides persist in occurrence and frequency and the perpetrators are increasinly becoming more daring, getting rid of corpses within the limits of the actual city as an alternative to hiding them outside in the desert (which was how and where the first bodies were initially found). There seems to be a sinister air of a probable expanding and generally mind boggling accord and possible co-operation in a dodgy atmosphere of hushing up and suspect intransigence by Mexican officials.

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

‘Daughters of Juarez’ is undoubtedly a good solid engaging read for it is an authentic account of this mass femicide. Rodriguez makes a difference to many of the people impacted and  indeed damaged by these atrocities by bringing the terrible incidents to light for all of us to see.

Despite the good this particular account may do,  the book ‘Daughters of Juarez’ is nevertheless afflicted with a shortfall in design. Rodriguez jumps between dates, men and women and happenings so often that it becomes very difficult to stay easily on track. She often endulges in going too far with what should be more simple explanations . The storytelling as good as it is in some parts seems like a waste at other times – I feel there could have been more time spent on humanizing many of the victims by telling part of their story. Perhaps Rodriguez could enlighten us on further background  in a follow up book.  Some citations should have also been utilized by the author  to assist the reader make headway of the depth of analysis and background investigatory work  that must have been devoted to this book. So much unnecessary material could have been left out and replaced with substance of a more poignant nature.

Many readers will most likely be terrified by the depth of violence that the hundreds of victims were subjected to. But let us not forget the suffering experienced in so many ways by their families that is equally  incomprehensibly terrifying. No matter how iron cast you think your stomach may be the story will shock you!

The account is riveting and should be required reading, however the drawn out  composition of thoughts and the explanation involving exactly what the family members endured as well as the over dramatized retelling of the specific events seems to block the natural flow – a flow that ordinarily would encourage you not to put such a book down.

Furthermore, a more concise assessment on the specifics as well as extra cultural evaluation is likely to have assisted one to gain a clearer picture more readily (eg.  the ongoing drug wars, the prevailing gang mentaliy, the  sex discrimination deeply seeded in Mexican way of life, the ubiquitous corruption in border towns.) Did they contribute in anyway to the mass and serial murders of the women of Juarez? Readers I am sure would like to know.

Such a kind of book as ‘Daughters of Juarez’ also casts light on the ironic fact that intelligent U.S citizens, many whom are uninformed, are consuming not just products and goods from exploited workers in Mexican sweatshops south of their border, but also consuming many of those goods stained with the blood of victims of mass femicide and the victims families tears. The facts remain – women continue to be second rate citizens in Mexico to this day, while only a stones throw away, across the border, life goes on as per usual in the US with taken for granted freedoms, justice and equality.  It is an unfortunate fact that the United States indirectly supports the ongoing repression because of their unquentionable thirst for consumerism.

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Look over ‘Daughters of Juarez’ and then consider embarking on a getaway to Mexico. You will think about your lovely trip a whole lot more differently – guaranteed!

Even now, you can find little published regarding the issues raised in ‘Daughters of Juarez’. Perhaps if such a nightmarish situation occurred just north of the border, in El Paso, USA or within virtually any other developed or modern city anywhere else on the planet, we would certainly see it making headlines and causing mass public outcry. This is why this book is so very crucial. It brings the horrific events to the world’s attention.

But we must re-iterate despite the importance of the work bringing this topic to the world, the authors have done a diservice to the cause by their excessive dramatizing which can seem increasingly overdone and often contrived as one progresses through the book.

We do recommend reading the book and probably purchasing it. Support your local library and ask them to get it in for you if they do not aleady have it on their shelves. Regardless of some of its minor flaws, Daughters of Juarez is engaging and still worth a read.

The Human Rights Book Review

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK/Europe, Amazon Canada.

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Human Rights books to keep an eye out for in 2010

Posted on January 2, 2010. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy New Year to all our readers. May 2010 be a great year for you all.  

Following are some of the books we have recently got wind of, so keep on the look out for their upcoming release. Based on initial reports, they seem like items worth exploring soon.  

1. The Geneva Conventions Under Assault

Sarah Perrigo and Jim Whitman  

Due: late March  

The Geneva Conventions Under Assault by Sarah Perrigo and Jim Whitman

2. Global Governance and Biopolitics: Regulating Human Security

David Roberts  

Due: early March  

Global Governance and Biopolitics - Regulating Human Security by David Roberts

Global Governance and Biopolitics - Regulating Human Security by David Roberts

3. The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man’s Battle for Human Rights in South America’s Heart of Darkness

Jordan Goodman  

Due: mid Feb  

The Devil and Mr. Casement - One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness by Jordan Goodman

The Devil and Mr. Casement - One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness by Jordan Goodman

4. Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good (Studies in Legal History)

Susan Reynolds  

The University of North Carolina Press  

Due: mid January  

Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

5. Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice

Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham  

Due: early Jan  

Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice by Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham

Beyond Punishment in International Criminal Justice by Mark Findlay and Ralph Henham

6. Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity

Gloria Moss  

Due: early January  

Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity by Glora Moss

Profiting from Diversity: The Business Advantages and the Obstacles to Achieving Diversity by Gloria Moss

7. Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures

Elaine Swan  

Due: early January  

Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures by Elaine Swan

Worked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self Work and Therapeutic Cultures by Elaine Swan


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Seasons Greetings!

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , |


On behalf of the Human Rights Book Review, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a wonderful festive season.

May you, your families and friends have much health, happiness  and success at whatever you do. If you are involed with human rights, may you have super duper extra success!

We hope to have you back here soon.


Michael Simon, The Human Rights Book Review

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Book Review – Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective: A Challenge to International Water Law and Human Rights (International Studies in Human Rights) by Dr Knut Bourquain, Brill Academic Publishers, 2008.

Posted on December 19, 2009. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective: A Challenge to International Water Law and Human Rights (International Studies in Human Rights)

Dr Knut Bourquain

Brill Academic Publishers, 2008. ISBN: 9789004169548

Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective

Dr Bourquain's 'Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective'

The subject matter of insufficient water access for the worlds population and how it pertains to human rights, has been a very hot topic with the advent and recent urgency of climate change policy. For decades, the global deliberation on facilitating drinking water accessiblility has been kept primarily to NGO’s. What has truly been difficult with water and how it applies to international law is the arrival at any form of unequivocal definition. Further, and most astonishingly is that there has been practically no broad legal breakdown and/or groundbreaking study of the international law relating to the existing agreements and security of access to water. This is a fissure which is most competently patched up in this book. One may regard this as one of the seminal works on the topic it so effectively thrash’s out the topic of water rights.

Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective: A Challenge to International Water Law and Human Rights

Dr. Knut Bourquain

The book, Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective: A Challenge to International Water and Human Rights Law is authored by Dr Knut Bourquain, a lawyer and former lecturer at Germany’s Giessen University’s. He has become somewhat of a quasi water law expert over the past few years, having specialized in, taught in, and published what could be considered a respectable academic quantity on the topic of water law and how it applies to international human rights.

Dr Bourquain argues and makes a very clear distinction on the fundamentals of an exceedingly scattered area of law and human rights. He meticulously breaks the topic down into smaller and more easily understood parts which makes the work quite accessible to the lay reader but also brings clarity and definition to a seasoned human rights expert on a topic that has been quite foggy until now. He makes the interesting point that the inadequate accessibility to the vital supply of water is not an inescapable end result of water insufficiency. Surprisingly, arid countries have enough wherewithal to realize the necessary water requirements of their inhabitants and there are people in countries where water could be considered ubiquitous that put up with a form of water stress, too. Consequently, a lack in freshwater access can be seen as a dilemma of poor distribution and poor management.

The author analyses very closely the various shortfalls in the prevailing law of international water and human rights and argues for models that might go the distance in fortifying a human rights-based approach to freshwater access. Dr Bourquain does this by proposing both proper legal suitability as well as the appropriateness in the real world.

We felt this was a fine book on a topic given little time and effort to on the publication front. The book closes the gap on water resources and human rights and will make a terrific addition to not only a human rights library collection, but a climate change collection. This book has our thumbs up and we recommend it for purchase.

Table of contents


A. Introduction; I. The background situation – water scarcity as a global problem; II. Causes of the current crisis; III. Strategies of crisis management; IV. The role of law in problem-solving; V. The human rights-based approach to freshwater access in international law; VI. Synopsis of the study;

B. The law on international watercourses and its deficits in providing freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. Survey of the development of international water law in the 20th century; III. Analysis of international water law in regard to fulfilling the basic human need for water; IV. Concluding observations on international water law’s deficits;

C. Elements of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. Characteristics of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; III. Human rights-based approaches vs. policy concepts?; IV. Freshwater access in the context of the debate on rights to development and a clean environment; V. Elaboration of the scope of obligations attached to a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; VI. Universalism, particularism and pluralistic legal systems; VII. Concluding observations on the characteristics of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access;

D. The human rights-based approach to freshwater access within current international human rights law; I. Introduction; II. Freshwater access within international human rights treaties; III. Freshwater access as part of customary international human rights law; IV. Freshwater access as part of general principles of international law; V. Extraterritorial obligations of states concerning the basic human need for water; VI. Concluding observations on the international human rights law’s contribution to freshwater access;

E. Improving a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. The need to connect human rights law with international water law; III. Establishing new international treaty law; IV. Specifying and developing the human rights-based approach to freshwater access by the interpretation of existing law; V. Soft law and policy instruments strengthening a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; VI. Concluding observations on prospects for the improvement of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access;

F. Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

Michael Simon
The Human Rights Book Review

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Book Review – The Guantánamo Lawyers – Inside a Prison Outside the Law. NYU Press, 2009.

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Guantánamo Lawyers – Inside a Prison Outside the Law
ISBN-13: 9780814737361

The Gitmo Lawyers

The Guantánamo Lawyers is a great read.

Everyone of us has been peppered for years now with stories from the media of Guantanamo inmates and their abuse, either at the hands of their guards, or by the legal system (lack of due process). This book, the Guantanamo Lawyers, brings over 100 personal narratives from not only the inmates at “Gitmo” but also from other overseas prisons/detention centres. It brings these narratives to us first hand from their direct representatives, their Lawyers. The inmates, range from teenagers to octogenarians from approximately forty separate countries. For years, so many have been detained without charges, without any form of trial, and/or a fair and proper hearing. Many of these inmates are indeed America’s enemies but what is so scary is that in the book we learn of stories of how many of the inmates weren’t even captured on any form of battlefield. They were just rumored to be enemies, sometimes on little or faulty intelligence and delivered up to US forces for handsome bounty.

What really pulls at ones sensitivities is the utter mental and physical despair that the detainees go through, their feeling of hopelessness and fear as they are terrorized daily.
Its is hard to believe that civilized society can be driven to these depths. Especially the United States, the once shining example of freedom and justice.
Countless studies have been done on inmates and detainees over hundreds of years and this is probably one of the best (and most horrible) studies of how an intense isolation of a torturous military imprisonment devoid of so many human rights and international legal norms, can wreak havoc on an inmates mind and body and in the process, collaterally rip apart the very soul of the people and country that the system is supposed to protect. One can’t help but draw parallels with these stories with those of the harshest of colonial era penal colonies. These inmates have no sense of future. Deprived of their reality they are driven to self harm such as suicide, hunger strikes, self mutilation etc to add to the harm already heaped upon then day after day by their overseers.

Guantanamo detainees like the ones from 'The Guantanamo Lawyers"

We learn of the brave fight by true American patriots – the lawyers who represent them. The lawyers, many of them military lawyers, thankfully, are not beholden to their military masters, but driven by their devotion and oaths to justice, fairness and human rights for all. Their plight is moving. One finds themselves cheering for these advocates like one would cheer on a football team. Their lesson is our lesson and that is, no matter who we are, we must respect the rule of law, human rights and never stoop to the level of our enemies.
Grab a copy – it’s sure worth the read.


Contents of The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law

Introduction by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz

Chapter 1 Representing the “Worst of the Worst”
How and Why the Lawyers Started Representing Detainees

Chapter 2 Getting behind the Wire
Rasul/Al Odah: The Right to Representation

Chapter 3 – Uncovering Guantánamo’s Human Face
First Impressions
Rendered: How the Detainees Got to Guantánamo
Female Attorneys
Family Members

Chapter 4 Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts
Barriers to Representation
The No-Hearing Hearings: Combatant Status Review Tribunals
Military Commissions
Political Maneuvering
Boumediene v. Bush: The Death Knell for Prisons beyond the Law

Chapter 5 – Tortured
A Product of Torture Culture
Hunger Strikes

Chapter 6 – Alternative Forms of Advocacy

Chapter 7 – Leaving Guantánamo
Stuck in Limbo
Out but Not Free
Happy Endings?

Chapter 8 – Guantánamo beyond Cuba: A Global Detention System outside the Law
Guantánamo Comes to America
Black Sites
Timeline: Guantánamo and the “War on Terror”


If one is inclined to go further with the research or understanding of the Lawyers narrative, New York University Library has produced a Guantánamo Lawyers digital archive for this purpose. The site is dedicated to collecting the narratives of the legal representatives who acted on behalf of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center. Anyone can download and view the documents as PDFs. Please visit the site here: Guantánamo Lawyers Digital Archive

Michael Simon
The Human Rights Book Review

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Human Rights Book Fair, New York.

Posted on December 3, 2009. Filed under: Books, Documentaries, Events, Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Hello to all our New York supporters out there and any of our supporters that happen to be in New York. We have just returned from this event and you gotta get down there. Great event worth supporting. Hurry though – only a few hours left. Sorry we never posted advance notice.

Co-sponsored by Human Rights in China and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, the Human Rights Book Fair celebrates Chinese, Tibetan, Uyghur, and English-language writers and artists who are currently in prison, under threat, or whose works have been censored or banned in China.
The interactive, multi-media program includes readings, documentary screenings, multi-media presentations, and a panel discussion.
We are going back for a reception later on in the evening, so say hello if you bump into any of the team down there.

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Congratulations to Professor Geraldine Van Bueren and all the the new commissioners at the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Posted on November 28, 2009. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

New Commissioner appointments have just been announced to Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission. It is envisaged that the three-year appointments, announced by Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, will bolster most considerably the Commission’s ongoing and future work on gender, sex orientation, race, religion and belief, age, disability, and human rights in general, as well as its work with employers in both the private and public sector.

Commissioner Van Bueren - courtesy of

Of the appointments, all worthy and deserving in their own way, we would like to single out for particular congratulations, Professor Geraldine Van Bueren. Professor, or should we say Commissioner Van Bueren, has not only an illustrious legal and academic career to her credit, but is also a distinguished author of some very important core human rights texts that we should bring to the attention of our readers.

They are (in chronological order):

*Child Rights in Europe: Convergence and Divergence in Judicial Protection

*Article 40: Child Criminal Justice (Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 40)

*Childhood Abused: Protecting Children Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

*International Law on the Rights of the Child (International Studies in Human Rights)

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2009 Human Rights Awards – Literature/Non-Fiction shortlist announced

Posted on November 23, 2009. Filed under: Books, Events, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

2009 shortlists have just been announced for the prestigious Australian Human Rights Awards conducted annually by the highly regarded Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

The AHRC’s President, Catherine Branson, commented that the shortlists were judged from more than two hundred high quality entrants nominated from across Australia.

“The shortlists selection is always an inspiring and difficult process for the judging panels due to the extraordinary effort and achievement displayed in the entries,” Ms Branson said.

“I congratulate all those who entered the Awards for their outstanding commitment to protecting and promoting human rights in Australia and, in particular, I congratulate these entrants who have been shortlisted.”

The full shortlists can be found at, but we have included the Literature Non-Fiction Award shortlist below for relevance to this blog.

Award winners will be presented with their trophies at the annual gala luncheon at the Grand Ballroom, Sheraton on the Park Hotel, Sydney, on Thursday, 10 December 2009. Winners of the prestigious 2009 Human Rights Medal and Young People’s Human Rights Medal will also be announced on the day, which will have ABC Television personality and 2009 Andrew Olle Media lecturer Julian Morrow, as MC.

The Human Rights Book Review finds it quite strange that Julian Morrow of Chaser infamy can be included as MC on the day particlularly after the controversy surrounding a recent skit in his show which made fun of sick and dying children. If the commission are serious about childrens rights, and they seem to be based on recent media releases, do they honestly think it wise appointing Mr Morrow with his teams black mark on human rights so recent? Something to ponder. Here is the offendiing skit. You be the judge and decide whether having Julian Morrow as MC is still too soon after the Chasers ‘Make a realistic wish’ clip.

All information about the 2009 Human Rights Medals and Awards can be found on the website at, including the Award categories, the judges criteria, winners from previous years and how to get your ticket to the Human Rights Awards 2009 ceremony.

Literature Non-Fiction Award Shortlist

The Native Title Market by David Ritter
avaliable from Amazon US, EU/UK, Canada

Black Politics: Inside the complexity of Aboriginal political culture
Sarah Maddison

Culture is… Australian Stories Across Cultures: An Anthology
Anne – Marie Smith (Editor)
The Multicultural Writers Association of Australia

Blind Conscience
Margot O’Neill

Navigating Teenage Depression: A guide for parents and professionals
Gordon Parker and Kerrie Eyers

All these titles are avaliable in Australia and New Zealand from

The Nile -Australia's Largest Online Bookstore - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

The Nile - New Zealand's Largest Online Bookstore - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

Postscript: 11th December, 2009. The winners were announced yesterday by the AHRC and the Literature/Non-Fiction prize was awarded to Margot O’Neill for Blind Conscience.

Blind Conscience by Margot O’Neill - this years Literature Non-Fiction Award winner conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission

In the Commissions own words “Blind Conscience tells the stories of the people who struggled to get asylum seekers out of detention and to change government policy. It looks at what was the tipping point that made both well-known and ordinary Australians decide to become involved with asylum seekers. The book is a heartfelt, moving and inspirational examination of the point when doing nothing ceases to become an option. Margot is from Coogee, NSW.”

The Human Rights Book review would like to commend Margot on her prize and we look forward to reading her book at some point in the very near future.

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Human Rights Book Review – ‘Half the Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Human Rights Book Review – ‘Half the Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Half The Sky Review

Half the Sky by Kristoff and WuDunn is rollercoaster of a read

From the outset, we here at the HRBR were impressed by the high concentration of quality information presented in this book. Few stones appear left unturned in this work and few of our heartsrings were left unpulled.

The authors, Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wu Dunn are a pair of journalists and Pulitzer Prize winning authors that have bravely been covering many of the worlds big current events for decades – one being their extensive coverage of Tianammen Square massacres. Their marriage union is oft reflected in their amazing high quality works of collaboration. This book is certainly no exception.

If you are interested in feminism and gender equality and particularly as it applies to human rights in third world or less developed parts of the world, you are most assured of a rollercoaters ride of a read. You will, no doubt about it, travel to hell and back to your safely protected world (that’s so long as you are not reading this book from a country that the book itself covers).

The Chinese have a saying that ‘Women hold up half the sky’. Kristoff and Wu Dunn have not only used this as part of the title for this book, but clearly and most aptly demonstrate that the third world countries that don’t live by such a broad sweeping maxim, are most assuredly self limiting their own progress. In a world that is moving forward at such enormous pace, notwithstanding the temporary world financial crisis, it can easily be seen from their book, that to not enshrine gender equality is not just a basic human rights no no which is morally disastrous to the country in question, but also tantamount to guaranteeing ones own economic impotence. Countries such as China that have lived by their words have seen enormous prosperity for not just women, but to all sexes and walks of life. So very ironic that China can be viewed positively in some areas of human rights as a beacon of light, when their broader human rights shortcomings are so easily denounced.

This book is filled with stomach churning stories of human rights abuses, lack of basic healthcare and education. This has the effect of making the reader all the more outraged and disgusted if and when we juxtapose and contrast our own basic and most fundamental rights and freedoms which we so obviously take for granted, against the daily despair as depicted in this book of poverty, starvation, medical delinquency, beatings, rapes and tortures that female minds and bodies endure in so many countries across Africa, The Middle East and Asia.

An extremely well written work of inspiration, ‘Half the Sky’ is a book that we are happy to recommend. It will leave you sad, bewildered, grateful and furious. You will want to act and contribute to a better world, all of which the authors help facilitate. They do this by appealing to your sensibilities, calling you to act and then guiding you/us in a way that we all can help, so easily and right now.

Get this book now – it is a must read.

Where to pick up a copy:

Amazon US, EU/UK, Canada.


Here are just some of the accolades others are giving ‘Half The Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’

An unblinking look at one of the seminal moral challenges of our time. This stirring book is at once a savage indictment of gender inequality in the developing world and an inspiring testament to these women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery. An unexpectedly uplifting read.
Khaled Hosseini, author, The Kite Runner

The stories that Kristof and WuDunn share are as powerful as they are heartbreaking. Their insight into gender issues and the role of women in development inspires hope, optimism, and most importantly, the will to change. Both a brutal awakening and an unmistakable call to action, this book should be read by all.
Melinda Gates.

Half the Sky is a passionate and persuasive plea to all of us to rise up and say ‘No more!’ to the 17th-century abuses to girls and women in the 21st-century world. This is a book that will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience. It is a powerful piece of journalism by two masters of the craft who are tireless in their pursuit of one of the most shameful conditions of our time.
Tom Brokaw

If you have always wondered whether you can change the world, read this book. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written a brilliant call to arms that describes one of the transcendent injustices in the world today–the brutal treatment of women. They take you to many countries, introduce you to extraordinary women, and tell you their moving tales. Throughout, the tone is practical not preachy and the book’s suggestions as to how you can make a difference are simple, sensible, and yet powerful. The authors vividly describe a terrible reality about the world we live in but they also provide light and hope that we can, in fact, change it.
Fareed Zakaria, author, The Post-American World

It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book about one of the most serious problems of our time: the worldwide abuse and exploitation of women. In addition to describing the injustices, Kristof and WuDunn show how concerned individuals everywhere are working effectively to empower women and help them overcome adversity. Wonderfully written and vividly descriptive, Half the Sky can and should galvanize support for reform on all levels. Inspiring as it is shocking, this book demands to be read.
Anne Rice

I think it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky. It does what we need most, it bears witness to the sheer cruelty that mankind can do to mankind.
George Clooney

I read Half the Sky in one sitting, staying up until 3 a.m. to do so. It is brilliant and inspirational, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops and mountains. It vividly illustrates how women have turned despair into prosperity and bravely nurtured hope to cultivate a bright future. The book ends with an especially compelling ‘What you can do’ to exhort us all to action.
Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea

Women facing poverty, oppression, and violence are usually viewed as victims. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky shows that unimaginable challenges are often met with breathtaking bravery. These stories show us the power and resilience of women who would have every reason to give up but never do. They will be an inspiration for anyone who reads this book, and a model for those fighting for justice around the world. You will not want to put this book down.
Angelina Jolie
<strong>Khaled Hosseini</strong>, <em>author, The Kite Runner</em><strong>Melinda Gates</strong><strong>Tom Brokaw</strong><strong>Fareed Zakaria</strong>, <em>author, The Post-American World</em><strong>Anne Rice</strong><strong>George Clooney</strong><strong>Greg Mortenson</strong>, <em>author, Three Cups of Tea</em><strong>Angelina Jolie</strong>

Where to pick up a copy of Half The Sky:

Amazon US, EU/UK, Canada.

The Nile -Australia's Largest Online Bookstore - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

The Nile - New Zealand's Largest Online Bookstore - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

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Responsibility and accountability for human rights abuse – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa by Marina Carman

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , |


In her new book, Marina Carman debates the concepts and theory of responsibility and
accountability for human rights abuse in a South African social, political and moral context. She centres much of her book on the role of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how they have fallen short of specifically and directly defining key theoretical concepts of responsibility or accountability. However, the author puts forward a strong argument that it is possible to draw out that the TRC has implied an approach that stresses that individual accountability stretches further to encompass a collective responsibility in a broader social context. Carman
argues that these collectives and/or individuals should not just accept responsibility but
hold themselves accountable by being active players and contributors to forthcoming change.
A thought provoking read which makes the reader realize that the TRC’s work is valuable, yet doesn’t seem capable of pleasing all – especially those that expect impractical hopes to be fulfilled in such short timeframes.

Available at Amazon US and EU/UK.

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The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – European and Scandinavian Perspectives (Brill Academic Publishers, 2009)

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , |

The very first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations in the twenty first century was The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Its aim is to secure the effective and equal human rights for the estimated 650,000,000 persons with disabilities the world over. It reaches this goal by by tailoring gerneral human rights norms to their circumstances. It mirrors and advances the shift away from welfare to rights in the context of disability. The Convention itself represents a mix between non-discrimination and other substantive human rights and gives practical effect to the idea that all human rights are indivisible and interdependent. This collection of essays, edited meticulously by Oddný Arnardóttir, Mjöll, and Gerard Quinn, examines these developments from the global, European and Scandinavian perspectives and the challenge of transposing its provisions into national law. It marks the exciting coming of age of disabilty as a core human rights concern.

A book worth owning. Our thumbs up.

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On Leave

Posted on June 11, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights |

Dear followers,

We are on holidays. We will be back shortly.



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