This book is about the impact of human rights on the relations among states. It seeks to bring together in one place an account of the theory of human rights (what they are; where they come from; whether they are universal); a discussion of the part they play in contemporary international politics (including East-West and North-South relations); and a view of what ought to be done about them - especially by the western powers. The central policy recommendation made by Dr Vincent is that, as a project for international society, provision for subsistence rights has a strong claim to priority over other human rights. Dr Vincent's conclusion about the place of human rights in contemporary international society neither simply endorses the notion of the advance of cosmopolitan values on the society of states, nor rests on an observation of the continuing strength of state sovereignty. He shows how the grip of the sovereign state might in fact be tightened by its successful co-option of the international doctrine of human rights.