Human rights occupy a privileged position within contemporary politics. They are widely taken to constitute perhaps the most fundamental standards for evaluating the conduct of states with respect to persons residing within their borders. They are enshrined in numerous international documents, national constitutions, and treaties; and those that have been incorporated into international law are monitored and enforced by numerous international and regional institutional bodies. Human rights have been invoked to justify popular revolt, secession, large-scale political reform, as well as forms of international action ranging from the imposition of conditions on foreign assistance and loans to economic sanctions (as in South Africa and Burma) and military intervention (as in Kosovo and East Timor). Michael Ignatieff has gone so far as to claim that human rights have become “the major article of faith of a secular culture that fears it believes in nothing else,” and one might add that they are articles of faith of many non-secular cultures, too.