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May 13 , 2010

State Violence and Human Rights

State Officials in the South


State Violence and Human Rights addresses how legal practices – rooted in global human rights discourse or local demands – take hold in societies where issues of state violence remain to be resolved. Attempts to make societies accountable to human rights norms regularly draw on international legal conventions governing state conduct. As such, interventions tend to be based on inherently normative assumptions about conflict, justice, rights and law, and so often fail to take into consideration the reality of local circumstances, and in particular of state institutions and their structures of authority. Against the grain of these analyses, State Violence and Human Rights takes as its point of departure the fact that law and authority are contested. Grounded in the recognition that concepts of rights and legal practices are not fixed, the contributors to this volume address their contestation 'in situ'; as they focus on the everyday practices of state officials, non-state authorities and reformers. Addressing how state representatives – the police officer, the prison officer, the ex-combatant militia member, the hangman and the traditional leader – have to negotiate the tensions between international legal imperatives, the expectations of donors, the demands of institutions, as well as their own interests, this volume thus explores how legal discourses are translated from policy into everyday practice.

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