Economic Statecraft: Human Rights, Sanctions, and Conditionality.

AuthorQuest, Linda
PositionBook review

Fabre, Cecile. Economic Statecraft: Human Rights, Sanctions, and Conditionality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2018. vi + 214 pages. Hardcover, $21.47; Kindle, $20.40.

Economic Statecraft is well-crafted and highly informative. Dr. Cecile Fabre is Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford. She focuses on Human Rights, Sanctions, and Conditionality and provides definitions, lists of key points, and outlines in each chapter. Such guides are needed in the tangled field of bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties, involving many sovereign states, and represented by changing negotiators and policy makers functioning for them.

Vocabulary from the book helps compare statecraft across time. Frequently used together are proportionality, necessity, and effectiveness. Conditionality might include ex ante (tied to policy), ex post (tied to outcome), human rights awards, or no-responsibility grants (like a goodwill gift for doing something right). Justifiability and credibility are questions. Grasping these differentiates traditional pre-World War II power politics from post-1948 statecraft--economic and general. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became a norm in international relations. That same year the Sixth Committee (Legal) of the General Assembly defined aggression and genocide. Since then, Machtstaat and realpolitik have gradually lost status as "business as usual." Economic Statecraft draws attention to the divergence of "as usual" and "justifiable" conduct of foreign affairs.

International relations in practice and in academia have changed accordingly, even though historical records and memory endure. So it follows that chapter six "Tu Quoque," last in order, addresses hypocrisy and double standards. That chapter warrants special attention, as it engages inherited ancestral traditions, accumulated cultural preferences, direct and indirect socialization, and transgenerational differences. Justifiable or not, hypocrisy and double standards have staying power and they persist. They pervade social life, public affairs, and international relations. One party can always call out another for long-ago or recent instances of hypocrisy or double standards. Countercharges are provoked, tu quoque! The post-truth era fosters hyperbole and exaggeration. All combined, these keep challenging the new world of universal human rights. Nonetheless, tu quoque can work for better as well as...

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