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Basic RightsSubsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy: 40th Anniversary Edition$
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Henry Shue

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691202280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691202280.001.0001

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(p.5) Introduction
Basic Rights

Henry Shue

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of basic rights. The wisdom of a U.S. foreign policy that includes attention to “human rights” depends heavily upon which rights are in practice the focus of the attention. The major international documents on human rights include dozens of kinds of rights, often artificially divided into “civil and political” and “economic, social, and cultural” rights. U.S. foreign policy probably could not, and almost certainly should not, concern itself with the performance of other governments in honoring every one of these internationally recognized human rights. The policy must in practice assign priority to some rights over others. It is not entirely clear so far either which rights are receiving priority or which rights ought to receive priority in U.S. foreign policy. The purpose of this book is to present the reasons why the most fundamental core of the so-called “economic rights,” which can be called subsistence rights, ought to be among those that receive priority. The chapter then presents some divergent indications of what the priorities actually are.

Keywords:   basic rights, human rights, civil rights, political rights, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights, U.S. foreign policy, subsistence rights

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