Can human rights protect the stateless? Or are they permanently excluded from politics and condemned to "bare life"? Human rights are in crisis today. Everywhere one looks, there is violence, deprivation, and oppression, which human rights norms seem powerless to prevent. This book investigates the roots of the current crisis through the thought of Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben. Human rights theory and practice must come to grips with key problems identified by Agamben - the violence of the sovereign state of exception and the reduction of humanity to 'bare' life. Any renewal of human rights today must involve breaking decisively with the traditional coordinates of Western political thought and instead affirm a new understanding of life and political action.