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My research is concentrated in three parallel and sometimes overlapping tracks. The first track concerns problems of democracy in an era of globalization, focusing both on how globalization exposes democracy’s conceptual reliance on assumptions inherited from the modern, territorial, sovereign state and on obstacles to identifying and comprehending those limits. My current work on this topic addresses problems of global democratic accountability, of democratic "control" over global decision-making, and of democracy in the European Union.

The second track addresses problems in contemporary human rights theory and practice; it is concerned both with the political and philosophical viability of human rights. Current projects include a forthcoming edited volume on changes in the international human rights regime since 9/11, my textbook, Human Rights: Politics and Practice, and essays on political approaches to human rights.

The third, and newest, research track concerns global injustice and the democratization of global economic governance. One important aspect of this research is its attempt to integrate two fields that remain surprisingly and disturbingly insulated from one another: global justice and global democracy. Current projects include essays on the causes of poverty, on responsiblity for addressing poverty and other human rights violations, and on reforming the global institutional order. I am also working on a book that draws these themes together.

Select PublicationsDemocracy as Human Rights

Books

Democracy as Human Rights: Freedom and Equality in the Age of
Globalization
(New York:Routledge, 2005).

Democracy as Human Rights

 

 

Human Rights: Politics and Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

 

 

Human Rights in the 21st Century 

Human Rights in the 21st Century
Continuity and Change since 9/11
(London: Palgrave, 2011).

 

 

 

 

 Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

The New Sovereigntist Challenge for Global Governance: Democrcy without Sovereignty,” (with Stacy Bondanella Taninchev), International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming.

Democratic Accountability in Global Politics: Norms, not Agents,” Journal of Politics, 73, 1 (2011): 45–60.

Human Rights and Global Democracy,” Ethics and International Affairs 22, 4 (2008): 395-420.

Neither Relative nor Universal: A Response to Donnelly,” Human Rights Quarterly 30, 1 (February 2008): 183-93.

Europe’s Democratic Deficits Through the Looking Glass: The European Union as a Challenge for Democracy,” Perspectives on Politics 5, 3 (September 2007): 567-84.

Sins of the Fathers: War Rape, Wrongful Procreation, and Children’s Human Rights,” Journal of Human Rights 6, 3 (July-September 2007): 307-324.

Civil Society and the Problem of Global Democracy,Democratization 12, 1 (February 2005): 1–21.

Origins and Universality in the Human Rights Debates: Cultural Essentialism and the Challenge of Globalization,” Human Rights Quarterly 25, 4 (November 2003): 935-64.

Sovereignty: Reckoning What is Real,” Polity 34, 2 (Winter 2001): 241-57 [review article].

Democracy, Globalization, and the Problem of the State,” Polity 33, 4 (Summer 2001): 527-46.

Theory in Practice: Quentin Skinner’s Hobbes, Reconsidered,” The Review of Politics 62, 3 (Summer 2000): 531-61.

Book Chapters

World State and Global Democracy,” in Global Governance, Global Government: Institutional Visions for an Evolving World System, ed. Luis Cabrera (Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming).

Global Democracy Through Transnational Human Rights,” in Global Democracy and its Difficulties, ed. Anthony J. Langlois and Karol Edward Soltan (London: Routledge, 2009).

A Democratic Defense of Universal Basic Income,” in Illusion of Consent: Essays after Carole Pateman, ed. Iris M. Young, Mary L. Shanley, and Daniel I. O’Neill (State College, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008).

Children Born of War and Human Rights: Philosophical Reflections,” in Born of War, ed. R. Charli Carpenter (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Publishers, 2007): 195-216.

None So Poor that He is Compelled to Sell Himself”; Democracy, Subsistence, and Basic Income, in Economic Rights, ed. Lanse Minkler and Shareen Hertel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 94-114.

Human Rights and Non-State Actors: Theoretical Puzzles,” in Non-State Actors in the Human Rights Universe, ed. George Andreopoulos, Zehra F. Arat, and Peter Juviler (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Publishers, 2006): 23-41.

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Democracy as Human Rights: Freedom and Equality in the Age of Globalization

Democracy has traditionally been understood to apply within and pertain to states.  Globalization prompts theorists, politicians, and citizens alike to reconsider this traditional view, to think about whether and how democracy might work beyond states.  Cosmopolitan democrats propose extending democratic institutions and procedures to the global level, while advocates of state reinforcement call for rejecting and resisting globalization to preserve democracy.  I argue that neither approach is likely to succeed because neither adequately grasps how deeply democracy’s meaning and its practice have been affected by its complex historical and conceptual ties with the sovereign state.  In this book I argue that globalization challenges not just the borders, scope, and reach of modern democracy but also its very essence.  I establish this claim through an original, critical reading of democracy’s relationship with sovereignty and offer a novel reinterpretation of core democratic principles informed by that history and designed to meet the exigencies of an age of globalization.

              Part I of the book presents a conjectural history of democracy’s entanglement with sovereignty.  I argue that the rich normative discourse of sovereignty definitively shaped early modern thinking about politics and the state, blending prescriptive and empirical claims into a new and distinctive justification of rule.  Early modern democracy took on the characteristics of sovereignty through the social contract, a theoretical device that transferred sovereignty from prince to people.  The transfer was justified through an appeal to natural freedom and equality, yet after the transfer these universal principles wound up constrained by the conceptual and territorial limits of the sovereign state.  While the internal or domestic limits on freedom and equality were challenged almost immediately by democrats, the external limits remained mostly unquestioned until recently.  Now, globalization is eroding sovereignty and transforming states, remaking the modern configuration of rule and undercutting modern democracy’s normative and empirical foundations.  Paradoxically, democracy seems both to require and to rule out supranational governance in such conditions. 

              Part II develops a reinterpretation of democracy that draws on its longstanding commitment to freedom and equality and on its early political and theoretical connections with the idea of human rights.  This account, which I call democracy as human rights (DHR), aims at realizing freedom and equality in multiple spheres of governance from the local to the global levels.  It is an attempt to work out what the universal potential in democracy’s core commitments might require once disentangled from sovereignty, an attempt to extend democracy’s logic globally by supplementing traditional representative government with institutions to guarantee fundamental human rights.  I defend DHR against likely criticisms – including that it is “not democracy” – and extensively discuss its institutionalization and implementation.  This account offers a flexible, plausible, and appealing way to realize democracy more fully within and beyond the state.

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Human Rights: Politics and Practice  

Human Rights: Politics and Practice is the first comprehensive textbook for politics students.  It offers an unparalleled breadth and depth of coverage, with 20 chapters written by international experts.  Seven core chapters introduce the main theoretical issues and challenges in the study of human rights as a political phenomenon, addressing normative foundations, international law, measurement, international relations, comparative politics, sociological and anthropological approaches, and the ideological (mis)use of human rights.  Thirteen thematic chapters offer detailed analysis and case studies of key issues in the politics and practice of human rights, such as economic globalization, genocide, the environment, and humanitarian intervention. These chapters illustrate normative, empirical, legal, critical, and policy-oriented approaches, allowing students to deepen their theoretical understanding while learning about important contemporary developments.  This text is ideal for advanced undergraduates or beginning masters students.  An extensive array of online resources enhances student learning and provides valuable support for lecturers.  

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Human Rights in the 21st Century: Continuity and Change since 9/11  

Human Rights in the 21st Century, edited with Anja Mihr, challenges the familar idea that 'everything changed' after 9/11. Leading international human rights scholars assess continuity and change in the international human righte regime in the 21st century, analyzing compliance and violations, normative and political discourses, legal and institutional developments at the national, regional, and international levels, and developments in the non-state sector. Written from diverse methodological perspectives, the volume provides rich and varied insights on vital questions concerning the resiliency, weaknesses, and propsects of human rights today.  

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“The New Sovereigntist Challenge for Global Governance: Democracy without Sovereignty,” (with Stacy Bondanella Taninchev), Ethics and International Affairs 22, 4 (2008): 395-420.

 The "new sovereigntists," a prominent group of scholars and policy-makers, articulate a widely held view that global governance is inherently undemocratic because it undermines popular sovereignty. Problems with their argument notwithstanding, we argue that they identify a real and serious tension. We also argue, however, that the vision of democracy as popular sovereignty that they advocate is becoming incoherent and untenable in an era of increasing interdependence. Conceptions of democracy anchored in popular sovereignty depend for their legitimacy on empirical conditions that no longer obtain. What we call the new sovereigntist challenge for global governance is to develop an alternate conception of democracy that avoids the logic and forms of popular sovereignty at the global level while still respecting and promoting democracy and democratization within states. We outline one such alternative here.

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“Democratic Accountability in Global Politics: Norms, not Agents,” Journal of Politics 73, 1 (2011): 45-60.

 The standard model of democratic accountability emphasizes accountability to the appropriate agents. This model has proven difficult to adapt to the challenges posed by global governance. This article critiques the Westphalian assumptions underlying the standard model and develops an alternative model of accountability to democratic norms rather than to specific agents..

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“Human Rights and Global Democracy,” Ethics and International Affairs 22, 4 (2008): 395-420.

 Human rights and global democracy are widely assumed to be compatible, but the conceptual and practical connection between them has received little attention.  As a result, the relationship is under-theorized, and important potential conflicts between them have been neglected or overlooked.  This essay attempts to fill this gap by addressing directly the conceptual relationship between human rights and global democracy.  It argues that human rights are a necessary – though not necessarily sufficient – condition for global democracy.  Human rights constrain power, enable meaningful political agency, and support and promote democratic regimes within states, all of which are fundamental elements in any scheme for global democracy.  The essay explores the normative and conceptual bases of each of these functions and works out some of their institutional implications for a democratic transnational human rights regime.  It also considers important objections concerning the democratic legitimacy of such a regime and its potential effectiveness.

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“Neither Relative nor Universal: A Response to Donnelly,” Human Rights Quarterly 30, 1 (February 2008): 183-93.

This response raises questions about Jack Donnelly’s argument for the “relative universality” of human rights (Jack Donnelly, "The Relative Universality of Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly 29, no. 2 (2007); see also Donnelly's reply in the same issue as this response). It shows that Donnelly’s reliance on the terms relative and universal dulls many of his sharp analytic points and in some instances leads to inconsistencies in his account. This response also contends that in defending the relative universality of human rights Donnelly obscures or mischaracterizes the bases of their legitimacy. It concludes by arguing that human rights are neither relative nor universal and shows how abandoning this vocabulary would improve our theoretical understanding of them.

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“Europe’s Democratic Deficits Through the Looking Glass: The European Union as a Challenge for Democracy,” Perspectives on Politics 5, 3 (September 2007): 567-84.

Despite widespread disagreement about democratic deficits in the European Union (EU), most critics begin by conceiving democracy as a problem for the EU. Seeing the EU as undemocratic or insufficiently democratic, they devise institutional innovations to democratize it. These innovations seem to require breaking the traditional link between democracy and the nation-state, which in this context appears outmoded or inappropriate. This article challenges that approach, arguing that it gets the relationship between democracy and the sovereign state wrong—or at least, incomplete—by stressing modern democratic theory’s empirical ties to the state while underestimating their normative significance. The complex interdependence of normative and empirical assumptions informing modern democratic theory means that detaching democracy from the state is much less straightforward than critics often imagine.  The essay argues instead for conceiving the EU as a problem for democratic theory.  Doing so reveals that democratic theory is ill-equipped to address recent changes in the configuration of rule and new structures of governance associated with Europeanization, European integration, and globalization more broadly. This change in perspective highlights important limits in recent democratic theorizing about the EU and clarifies the role of European debates in reinterpreting and reconstructing democracy in the age of globalization.

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“Sins of the Fathers: War Rape, Wrongful Procreation, and Children’s Human Rights,” Journal of Human Rights 6, 3 (July-September 2007): 307-324.

This essay considers the contentious and practically important question of whether children born of war rape and forced impregnation can and should be conceived as having their human rights violated by their rapist-fathers. It takes up both conceptual issues and pragmatic considerations related to this important question. I argue that the conceptual obstacles to talking about rapist-fathers violating the human rights of their children can be overcome and that we can usefully conceive the wrong done by them as wrongful procreation, a violation of a child’s right to enjoy rights. Moreover, I argue that recognizing these rights and wrongs is urgently necessary and can have a positive practical effect on the lives of war-rape children.

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“Civil Society and the Problem of Global Democracy,” Democratization 12, 1 (February 2005): 1–21.

This essay criticizes the increasingly popular idea that global civil society (GCS) represents a model or framework for democracy in the age of globalization.  After briefly reviewing the arguments supporting this democratic conceptualization of GCS, I distinguish two models of civil society at the state level on which these claims rest and show that neither successfully survives transposition to the supranational setting.  In both cases the purported democratic functions and effects of civil society depend on assumptions that do not hold globally.  Despite the important achievements of many global actors and movements, I conclude, GCS does not adequately conceptualize global democracy or democratization.  This failure points to broader epistemological problems in how we theorize global democracy and politics. 

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“Origins and Universality in the Human Rights Debates: Cultural Essentialism and the Challenge of Globalization,” Human Rights Quarterly 25, 4 (November 2003): 935-64.

Preoccupation with cultural relativism has until recently crowded out most other theoretical questions in the field of human rights theory; today globalization and other problems are receiving much more attention.  The worry addressed here is that despite this timely broadening of analytic focus we tend to view these new problems through the lens of cultural relativism.  As a result, we are asking the wrong questions about globalization and human rights and looking for the wrong kinds of answer.  This essay pleads for a critical reevaluation of contemporary approaches to globalization and human rights and proposes an alternative framework.

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“Sovereignty: Reckoning What is Real,” Polity 34, 2 (Winter 2001): 241-57.

This article reviews the following recent books on Sovereignty: John Hoffman, Sovereignty.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998; Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999; Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001; David A. Smith, Dorothy J. Solinger, and Steven C. Topik, eds., States and Sovereignty in the Global Economy.  New York: Routledge, 1999.

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“Democracy, Globalization, and the Problem of the State,” Polity 33, 4 (Summer 2001): 527-46.

Globalization’s effects on democracy have received much attention recently, though there is little consensus about what precisely those effects are or how they should be addressed.  Critics are almost evenly divided among those who propose cosmopolitan solutions and those who favor reinvigorating democracy at the state level.  This article argues that we are not prepared to decide such issues because current analyses of the problem confuse globalization’s effects on states with its effects on democracy and rest on problematic assumptions about the relationship between states and democracy.  An alternative approach that uses globalization as a lens through which to focus on this relationship reveals that the problem is deeper and more complex than either of the existing accounts recognizes.  A sound analysis of the problem must begin with a better understanding of the origins, nature, and implications of democracy’s spatial and normative ties to the state and its entanglement with the modern discourse of sovereignty.

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“Theory in Practice: Quentin Skinner’s Hobbes, Reconsidered,” The Review of Politics 62, 3 (Summer 2000): 531-61.

Quentin Skinner’s method for studying the history of political thought has been widely and heatedly debated for decades.  This article takes a new tack, offering a critique of Skinner’s approach on the grounds he has himself established: consideration of his historical work as exemplifying the theory in practice.  Three central assumptions of Skinner’s method are briefly reviewed; each is then evaluated in the context of his writings on Hobbes.  The analysis reveals problems and ambiguities in the specification and implementation of the method and in its underlying philosophy.  The essay concludes by examining the broader practical and philosophical implications of adopting this approach to the study of political ideas; the method operationalizes a set of philosophical commitments that transforms ideological choices into questions of proper method.

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“World State and Global Democracy,” in Global Governance, Global Government: Institutional Visions for an Evolving World System, ed. Luis Cabrera (Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming).

The profound changes transforming power and rule in our rapidly evolving world system raise serious concerns about democracy’s vitality and its prospects.  Calls for democratization of global governance and for making globalization more humane reflect a profound and growing popular dissatisfaction with the nature and direction of change.  Yet in rushing to respond to the myriad challenges globalization poses for democracy, scholars often fall into one of two analytic mistakes: sometimes they assume that a world state is inevitable, and sometimes they assume that a world state is either required for or entailed by global democracy.  In the former case, since a world state is inevitable, the best hope for global democracy is a democratic world state; in the latter, since global democracy needs a world state, a world state becomes a normative imperative.  In both cases, world state and global democracy go hand in hand.  I do not think that a world state is inevitable, nor do I think that global democracy requires or entails a world state.  Each of these positions ignores, in different ways, the contingency of the Westphalian configuration of rule and of the modern theory of democracy that developed within it.  Linking global democracy to a world state assumes that democracy can mean more or less what it has always meant in the modern era.  I shall argue that this is a flawed and potentially dangerous assumption; I also sketch an alternative approach to global democracy that takes contingency in world politics seriously.  This approach assumes neither the inevitability of a world state nor the necessity of one to global democracy.  It provides a justification and suggests mechanisms for democratizing nascent global systems of power and governance and on novel ways of institutionalizing democratic ideals.

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“Global Democracy Through Transnational Human Rights,” in Global Democracy and its Difficulties, ed. Anthony J. Langlois and Karol Edward Soltan (London: Routledge, 2009).

There is a tendency among democratic theorists to imagine global democracy as essentially like democracy at the national level, only bigger.  While the scholarship on global democracy has generated intriguing and innovative institutional models of democracy, it has for the most part clung to familiar theoretical models of it.  Whether they imagine a cosmopolitan constitutional order, a deliberative constitutionalism, a global discursive or public sphere, or some form of transnational or multilevel federalism, contemporary writers remain wedded to theories of democracy that were developed within the conceptual matrix of the modern sovereign state.  This essay argues that such theories are ill-suited to the complex challenge of democratizing the emergent structures of supranational power characteristic of globalization.  It articulates a different conception of global democracy, one realized through transnational guarantees of human rights.  These guarantees enable effective supranational political agency within the contemporary constellation of governance arrangements and constrain the exercise of power by key non-state transnational actors.  A transnational human rights regime would be an important first step on the way to realizing this version of global democracy.

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“A Democratic Defense of Universal Basic Income,” in Illusion of Consent: Essays after Carole Pateman, ed. Iris M. Young, Mary L. Shanley, and Daniel I. O’Neill (State College, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008).

Schemes for a universal basic income (UBI) and a citizens’ stake have attracted much favorable attention from political theorists and policy analysts recently.  UBI would provide all citizens with a guaranteed monthly payment, ideally at subsistence level, while a stake is a significant lump-sum disbursement of capital to citizens upon their reaching adulthood.  These programs are typically justified on the grounds that they increase freedom and promote social justice and economic efficiency.  Carole Pateman has argued that UBI should be preferred to a citizens’ stake for democratic reasons and suggests that a democratic defense of UBI would usefully widen the terms of debate, but to date no one has articulated such a justification.  I do so here, drawing on an account of democracy as human rights (DHR) I have worked out elsewhere.  DHR understands democracy as a political commitment to universal emancipation through securing the enjoyment of fundamental human rights for everyone.  Fundamental rights are those rights necessary for the enjoyment of all other rights; institutionalizing social guarantees for fundamental rights is a way of achieving freedom and equality for all.  I shall argue that UBI provides an effective social guarantee of certain fundamental rights; it is consistent with and required by democracy.  The defense of UBI offered here clarifies the program’s democratic aims and potential and facilitates a critical reconsideration of its design and implementation guided by explicitly democratic concerns.

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“Children Born of War and Human Rights: Philosophical Reflections,” in Born of War, ed. R. Charli Carpenter (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Publishers, 2007): 195-216

Systematic mass rape, forced impregnation, enforced pregnancy, and forced maternity shockingly demonstrate that we human beings possess a seemingly limitless  capacity to devise ever more terrible forms of cruelty and misery for our fellows.  To heap woe upon injustice, the children born of wartime rape and other forms of sexual exploitation are tragically often neglected, rejected, or simply ignored; we human beings possess a prodigious capacity for cruelty toward unfortunates as well.  The urgency of the questions posed in this volume cannot be grasped without a deep appreciation of the injustice underlying them.  Fortunately, we human beings also possess tremendous capacities to hope, to empathize, and to effect social change, capacities displayed by the many mothers and communities who embrace their “war babies” as they work to rebuild their societies and create better futures.  One role of socially engaged research is to marshal empirical evidence in providing analytic and normative guidance that can inform such efforts; the chapters in this volume, and the reflections offered here, should be read in this spirit.  This chapter works through some issues raised in the foregoing chapters or in the interstices among them.  For the most part, rather than engage directly with the individual chapters I step back from them to consider broad questions concerning identity, justice, and human rights and the normative and political challenges they present.  At times I discuss children born of war in the broad sense; at others I focus specifically on war rape children. 

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"None So Poor that He is Compelled to Sell Himself’; Democracy, Subsistence, and Basic Income,” in Economic Rights, ed. Lanse Minkler and Shareen Hertel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 94-114.

Critics have long denigrated economic rights, viewing them as less coherent, less important, and less defensible than traditional civil and political rights.  This essay provides a broad, democratic justification for human rights and fleshes out its implications for theorizing and implementing economic rights.  The idea is to articulate and defend a justification for these rights that all those committed to democracy should have reason to find appealing and persuasive.  The essay begins with a brief survey of a way of thinking about democracy that emphasizes achieving freedom, equality, and independence for all.  In this emancipatory tradition of democracy, human rights provide the vocabulary of democratization, the language of democratic empowerment.  The second and third sections offer a contemporary reformulation of this idea, one I call democracy as human rights (DHR); I emphasize how economic rights figure in guaranteeing emancipation, focusing on the right to guaranteed subsistence.  The next section shows how this account addresses the conceptual weaknesses and philosophical worries about economic rights surveyed above, stressing the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights and the obligations to which economic rights give rise.  Section five advocates unconditional subsistence (“basic”) income paid to all members of society as the most effective way to realize the right to guaranteed subsistence.  Basic income, unlike the welfare state or right to work proposals, guarantees subsistence in a way consistent with emancipation and with other democratic human rights.

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“Human Rights and Non-State Actors: Theoretical Puzzles,” in Non-State Actors in the Human Rights Universe, ed. George Andreopoulos, Zehra F. Arat, and Peter Juviler (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Publishers, 2006): 23-41.

I argue in this chapter that making sense of the roles played by non-state actors (NSAs) in the real world of human rights practice requires a thorough revision of the conceptual framework of human rights.  The argument proceeds in four steps.  First, I provide a brief overview of the traditional liberal rights framework that informs contemporary human rights theory, emphasizing three of its most salient features: the ideas that human rights are natural, that governments are created through a social contract to see to their protection, and that this device anchors them practically and conceptually in the public realm.  Next, I show how growing awareness of NSA’s role in both the violation and the protection and promotion of human rights raises significant empirical questions about the liberal paradigm’s adequacy in explaining the real world of human rights practice.  The third section draws on these observations in formulating six theoretical puzzles regarding the incorporation of NSAs into our thinking about human rights.  These puzzles in turn indicate that taking account of NSAs requires a thorough reconceptualization of human rights, a careful, critical reconstruction of the theoretical framework.  I cannot develop such an alternative framework here, but in the fourth section I offer some conjectures regarding its construction. 

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