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Political Science Professor Examines Human Rights Struggles

Why are certain global problems recognized as human rights issues, while others are not? A book edited by Dr. Clifford Bob, associate professor of political science at Duquesne University, entitled Rights on the Rise: The Struggle for New Human Rights, highlights campaigns to persuade the human rights movement to move beyond traditional concerns and embrace pressing new ones.

The book analyzes conflicts over issues neglected by the international human rights movement, explaining how and why campaigns succeed or fail in gaining global recognition. Issues discussed include South Asian Dalits (Untouchables), sexual minorities and disabled people. Others chapters examine economic rights and water rights and discuss efforts to make AIDS an international health crisis.

Bob said he wrote the book to help others understand how new human rights issues arise. “I focus especially on how aggrieved groups seek to politicize and internationalize their problems—often by portraying longstanding, socially accepted situations as novel claims to rights violations. I was particularly interested in why major international human rights organizations (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) sometimes accept, sometimes reject these claims,” he said.

By writing the book, he said he hopes to contribute not only to scholarly debates in political science and international law but also to public understanding about human rights law and activism. The book was completed in part through a grant from the Russo Family Foundation and published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bob’s previous book, The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media and International Activism, received the 2007 International Studies Association Best Book Award. The work investigated the struggle faced by insurgent groups to secure resources from media, donors and nongovernmental organizations.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.