The book focuses broadly on the promotion and protection of human rights practices in specific nations. David P. Forsythe's introductory pages set the stage for up-to-date information on the new situation in eastern Europe, and his conclusion stresses the interplay of national and international factors that affect governments in former communist countries as they attempt or are pressured to apply internationally recognized human rights.
Several themes are stressed in the contributed essays. One is the primacy of national factors over international factors in determining the future of human rights. Another is the question of legal engineering: can it control some of the historical factors that interfere with the application of human rights? Many states of eastern Europe have not been characterized over time as either stable democracies or other types of government that display tolerance and moderation. Further, the economy ineastern Europe has been poor in recent years. The prospects for developing governments that are protective of human rights are good in some areas but not in others. Human Rights in the New Europe presents a balanced and cautious overview of the future of human rights in Europe. The contributors, including Doug Bereuter, Vaclav Trojan, Pavel Hollander, Josef Blahoz, Mark Gibney, Richard Claude, Jack Donnelly, Bruce Garver, John Hibbing, Helen Lanham, and Ray Zariski, agree that there has been progress in some areas but that precise predictions cannot be made in the fluctuating climate of the early 1990s.