We live in a world where developments in one state impact the others. Human rights violations taking place in or by a state affect other states as well. The issue of human rights law has long been a matter of debate, and scholars have sought to validate their stand using moral or legal perspectives. Human rights and violations thereof is an ongoing issue of relevance, one which attracts a large audience at major international political and economic forums. The mid-twentieth century covenants on human rights continue to provide the basic framework for pursuing and protecting the rights of people around the world. The rationale for pursuing the idea of ‘international’ human rights law rests on the premise that states are not able to protect human rights on their own; therefore they need an overarching forum.
Professor Gibney’s book presents a case for adhering to the ‘legal obligations’ that we ‘already possess’ (p. 9) as a corollary to being party to the covenants on human rights. The central point of the book is to seek a return to universal principles of international human rights law. The book is divided, very aptly, in four main chapters or steps, as the author labels it, to make that return. Gibney introduces the problems with the present international human rights regime and identifies the possibilities of arriving at the promised principles with minor adjustments. The two ‘mistakes’ that the author identifies with regards to human rights are the primacy accorded to citizenship as the basis of protection, and the extent of human rights obligations (p. 11).
In the first chapter, “Step One: Responsibility,” Gibney focuses on what constitutes an international wrong. The chapter begins by presenting t