By Belachew Mekuria Fikre, Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights

Book Review; Mervyn Frost, ‘Constituting Human Rights: Global Civil Society and the Society of Democratic States’. London and New York: Routledge, 2002. 161 pp. ISBN: 0-415-27227-0

‘[H]ow are we to think about the clash between our civilian rights and our citizenship rights?’ This is the fundamental ethical question that Mervyn Frost’s book examines in light of a previously articulated ‘constitutive theory.’[i] Professor Frost argues for the centrality of human rights discourse in global politics in which ethical dilemmas of these types are unavoidable. The arguments are constructed based on the two fundamental practices that most of us are participants, as members of the global civil society and as members of democratic and democratising states. Then he takes on an extensive investigation of various ethical conundrums we found ourselves in because of our membership in these ‘apparently’ conflicting practices. The central problem that the book intends to address is the indifference within the practice of international relations to take human rights seriously. Accordingly, through the instrumentalities of constitutive theory, Frost propounds the urgency of bringing human rights back in to reconcile these conundrums.

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