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by Milton Meltzer

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
ISBN: 0374335141
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

With the strength and specificity that is missing from the Loeschers' Human Rights (p. 333, J-43), Meltzer takes a sober look at human rights violations in today's world. On the formal establishment of rights to be respected worldwide, he quotes Columbia University philosopher Charles Frankel to the effect that "rights" not deliverable--such as many included in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child--are only aspirations, and that listing them makes the concept of inviolable rights less serious. Meltzer notes the socialist countries' emphasis on economic and social rights and the Third World's concern for the right to survival, but his chief interest is in totalitarian regimes' violation of the individual human freedom and dignity held precious in democracies. Torture and censorship get specific attention, as do the particular forms of oppression practiced in Argentina, Indonesia, South Africa, and the Soviet Union. Human rights violations here at home are seen chiefly as imperfections in practice, and the last word goes to Professor Frankel on the basic virtue of our system. As for American companies' presence in South Africa and our government's support of dictatorial regimes in Iran, Nicaragua, and elsewhere, Meltzer attempts to air all viewpoints, pointing out flaws in official attempts at justification but also the claims of sometimes conflicting goals (such as arms limitation in our relations with the Soviet Union). With texts of several human fights documents appended, a valuable resource.