Human Rights in Nigeria's External Relations: Building the Record of a Moral Superpower.

Author:Ruth, Christian
Position:AFRICA - Book review

Aka, Philip C. Human Rights in Nigeria's External Relations: Building the Record of a Moral Superpower. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017.

Philip C. Aka's Human Rights in Nigeria's External Relations is an attempt to chart a course for the future of one of Africa's most important nations. As Aka explains, while Nigeria vies for the top spot economically and politically on the continent, it suffers from a dizzying array of internal problems that hold it back from achieving further greatness. The solution that Aka offers is centered on human rights, which he claims offers avenues to correct many of the systemic issues that plague the nation-building process in Nigeria. Aka, a professor of political science, has developed a comprehensive theoretical framework to bring about substantive change in Nigeria by using human rights as his guiding star.

Aka creates what he calls a "temple" of Nigeria's human rights foreign policy, a simple methodological construct that organizes the main goals for his proposed changes (5). There are four pillars to this temple: redesigning peacekeeping projects, making alterations to Nigeria's foreign policy, increasing bilateral relationships abroad, and shaping the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) into a tool of human rights diplomacy The two steps to this temple, as Aka sees it, are promoting human rights domestically and reconstructing the national interest to focus on human rights. These major changes are explained throughout the book, which is divided into three sections. The first provides a thorough historical and methodological background for Aka's project. The second section goes into detail about the four pillars and two steps of Aka's "temple"; it explains the justifications for them, how they would realistically be enacted, and what impact they would have. The final section provides a brief overview of possible downsides and rebuttals to the author's arguments.

The two steps of the "temple" are the first actions that Nigeria must undertake in this reform process. Foremost, Aka argues that there must be a reorientation of Nigeria's domestic attitudes toward national interests and human rights. By making human rights an important part of the discourse and goals set forth by the government, Nigeria can establish a greater sense of national unity, focusing on, as Aka claims, making human rights something that Nigerian citizens are "interested in" so that they will accept it as part of their...

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