Are human rights part of the problem or part of the solution in the current 'clash of civilizations'? Drawing on a hitherto neglected body of work in classical social theory and combining it with ideas derived from Barrington Moore, Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault, Woodiwiss poses and answers the questions: How did human rights become entangled with power relations? How might the nature of this entanglement be altered so that human rights better serve the global majority? In answering these questions, he explains how and why rights discourse developed in such distinctive ways in four key locations: Britain, the United States, Japan and in the UN. On this basis he provides, for the first time, a general sociological account of the development of international human rights discourse, which represents a striking challenge to current thinking and policy.