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Title: Human rights, interests and identities : the realist-constructivist debate and Canadian foreign policy
Author: Lui, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 8402
Awarding Body: The University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Current Institution: Aberystwyth University
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis attempts to resolve the existing impasse between neorealist and idealist constructivist approaches to the study of human rights. While neorealists claim that human rights are inconsequential given the primacy of rationalist-materialist notions of the national interest, idealist constructivists argue that human rights have an important constitutive effect on the identities and international norms that shape state behaviour. Thus, this thesis asks as its central research question: are human rights a function of states' material interests or social identities? This thesis juxtaposes neorealism and idealist constructivism theoretically as well as empirically through a study of human rights in Canadian foreign policy since 1945. Its central claim is that realist and constructivist accounts should be regarded as complementary rather than competing and mutually exclusive. Although statist pursuits of material interests remain an enduring part of international relations that inevitably limit the substance and reach of international human rights policies, human rights play an important role in the socialisation and expression of collective identities. In particular, the Canadian case reveals that human rights in both domestic and foreign policy played a crucial part in providing the foundation for national unity. The case also highlights that a multiplicity of theoretical approaches may prove more useful for understanding human rights in foreign policy than any singular line of analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available