A review of human-fights initiatives since WW Il, by priest and former Congressman Drinan (Law/Georgetown; Honor the...


CRY OF THE OPPRESSED: The History and Hope of the Human Rights Revolution

A review of human-fights initiatives since WW Il, by priest and former Congressman Drinan (Law/Georgetown; Honor the Promise, 1977, etc.), long active in human, rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, and Latin American Watch. ""Across the world a new gospel is echoing in the hearts of men and women--the good news that their human rights are recognized and somehow guaranteed by the law of nations."" So Drinan begins his account, divided into four sections: UN initiatives; the human rights policies of the US; the experience of other countries (particularly the Soviet treatment of Jews and the problems of South Africa); and hopes for the future of human rights. A recurring theme is the continuing obstinacy of the US in defying UN requirements vis-à-vis human rights. For instance, it wasn't until the Carter Administration that the Senate even considered ratifying the major human rights treaties Of the UN--ratification might require the US to abolish the death penalty, thus impinging on states' rights. Drinan's wrath falls on the Reagan Administration, which, he says, has backtracked from Carter's upsurge of activity. The current administration, he says, wears blinders, seeing human-rights violations in dictatorships of the left but ignoring them in rightist tyrannies such as those of Argentina, Chile, the Philippines, or El Salvador. Drinan suggests the establishment of a Nuremberg-style international criminal court which could stand trial over such terrorists or dictators as Idi Amin or Kaddafi. He also endorses an idea first proposed by Rend Cassin--that of instituting a high commissioner for human rights under the aegis of the UN, a proposal that even the Reagan Administration supports. Passionate and convincing.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987