The United Nations and Human Rights: A Guide for a New Era, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The United Nations and Human Rights

A Guide for a New Era, 2nd Edition

By Julie A Mertus, Julie Mertus


204 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415491402
pub: 2009-04-30
SAVE ~$7.79
Hardback: 9780415491327
pub: 2009-05-06
SAVE ~$31.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203878019
pub: 2010-04-05
from $19.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


Julie Mertus’ highly acclaimed text continues to be the only completely up-to-date comprehensive yet succinct guide to the United Nations human rights system.

Today, virtually all UN bodies and specialized agencies are undertaking efforts to incorporate the promotion or protection of human rights into their programs and activities. The United Nations and Human Rights examines these recent initiatives within the broader context of human rights practice, including the promotion of individual rights, management of international conflict and the advancement of agendas of social movements.

The fully revised and updated second edition not only provides a complete guide to the development, structure and procedures within the UN human rights system, but also reflects the vital changes that have occurred within the UN system, devoting considerable attention to expanding the range of issues discussed, including:

  • new developments in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • the current controversy surrounding the new Human Rights Council
  • expanded treatment of economic and social rights.

A superb addition to any human rights syllabus, this book maintains its position as essential reading for students and practitioners of human rights, international relations and international law.


Julie Mertus is a rare academic, one who combines serious scholarship with extensive experience of human rights practice and the ability to communicate her passion for her subject-matter to a wide audience. Her concise and readable work was widely welcomed when it appeared in 2005, and this new edition will not disappoint. She has now provided an incisive and informed response to the Human Rights Council and the Global Compact, as well as bringing the whole text up to date. As Mertus concludes, "the promise of human rights remains unfulfilled"; but she shows how the United Nations is working, against the odds, to turn ideals into practice. Students, activists and scholars will all benefit from this splendid short guide. - Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

Table of Contents

1. A Guide to the New UN Human Rights Practice 2. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 3. UN Charter-based Bodies (and other non-treaty bodies) 4. UN Treaty Bodies 5. The Security Council 6. The International Labour Organization and the UN Global Contract 7. Conclusion: Looking Backward, Going Forward

About the Authors

Julie Mertus is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the MA program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs at American University, Washington DC, USA. She is author or editor of over two dozen academic articles and six books including Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2004) which was named "human rights book of the year" by the American Political Science Association Human Rights Section.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)