■ Miall, Hugh, 2007. Emergent Conflict and Peaceful Change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 174 pp. ISBN 0333987675

Date01 January 2008
AuthorHelge Holtermann
Published date01 January 2008
Subject MatterArticles
Mahoney, Jack, 2007. The Challenge of
Human Rights: Origin, Development and
Significance. Oxford: Blackwell. 215 pp. ISBN
Within a fairly short book, Mahoney has
attempted to cover both the philosophical framing
and the international political efforts to establish a
legal and political human rights regime. This is an
admirable effort, but the final output suggests that
the project may have been somewhat overambi-
tious. Chapter 1 outlines the history of human
rights, starting in ancient Greek traditions and
tracing its development through history, ending
with the role of rights in Marxist thought. By
necessity, this chapter skips several significant
philosophers and schools of thought. More prob-
lematic is the selection of sources actually in-
cluded, as several of these cannot be said to have
had more than a marginal influence on the
development of rights-based ethics. By choosing
to cast his net this widely, Mahoney fails to give
the reader the desired insight into the philosoph-
ical underpinnings of human rights. Chapter 2
outlines ‘the modern human rights movement’
and traces the history of the legal and political
human rights regime within the UN and regional
bodies. Chapter 3 brings the reader back into the
philosophical realm, trying to clarify the concept
of human rights in terms of, for example, the rela-
tionship between rights and duties, the dilemmas
of conflicting rights claims and the challenge
against human rights as an imperialist Western
construct. Chapter 4 outlines how human rights
are enforced, while Chapter 5 discusses the global
expansion of the rights movement. This book may
be useful as an introduction to the concept of
human rights. To scholars and students already
acquainted with this field, however, the book is
too sweeping and overlooks too many relevant
aspects of the rights movement to be of much
Hilde Wallacher
Maley, William, 2006. Rescuing Afghanistan.
Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. 176
pp. ISBN 0868409375.
Terming the US intervention in Afghanistan a
‘rescue mission’, William Maley sets out to draw
lessons from this mission’s initial four years:
between the attacks on the World Trade Center in
September 2001 and the Afghan parliamentary
elections in September 2005. The book is divided
into six chapters. The first identifies some of the
key challenges facing the Afghan state. The follow-
ing chapters take count of the efforts to reconsti-
tute the political system: rebuilding security,
promoting human development, Afghanistan’s
relations to the world, and questions concerning
the future of Afghanistan. Throughout, Maley
reiterates the need to take into account the impli-
cations of not only the roles played by
Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, but also the
roles of India, Central Asia and the greater Middle
Eastern policy for stability in Afghanistan.
Further, pointing to what he sees as the longer-
term obligations following a rescue mission, Maley
calls for a stronger commitment from the inter-
national community, not only in words but also
with hard, financial commitments. The book is
one of a number of accounts taking stock of
Afghanistan a few years after the ousting of the
Taliban. Being a long-term observer of Afghanistan,
Maley’s analysis of current affairs greatly benefits
from his insights into modern Afghan history and
knowledge of the culture, traditions and languages
of the Afghan people. While Maley ducks beneath
the surface of the state-building jargon common
for much of the policy-writing on Afghanistan,
however, the range of issues covered is so vast that
it hardly gives credit to the complexity of each
issue. Yet, Maley does present a highly complex
situation in a way that makes it accessible to a
broad audience.
Kaja Borchgrevink
Miall, Hugh, 2007. Emergent Conflict and
Peaceful Change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
174 pp. ISBN 0333987675.
This book explores how social change can be
managed peacefully. It especially discusses the emer-
gence and transformation of conflicts in the wake
of major changes, such as power transitions between
states and social classes. Noting the lack of attention
to dynamics and change in recent conflict research,
the author tries to sketch a general theory of how
conflict of interest emerges and develops. The
author draws on various theoretical traditions in
this work. He tries to bridge structure- and agency-
focused theories, as well as constructivist and ration-
alist approaches. His focus on goal-formation is
clearly within the constructivist approach.
Changing people’s goals and the way they are
framed is among the author’s key suggestions for
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