Advocating Dignity

Advocating Dignity: Human Rights Mobilizations in Global Politics

Jean H. Quataert
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 376
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    Advocating Dignity
    Book Description:

    In Advocating Dignity, Jean H. Quataert explores the emergence, development, and impact of the human rights revolution following World War II. Intertwining popular local and national mobilizations for rights with ongoing developments of a formal international system of rights monitoring in the United Nations, Quataert argues that human rights advocacy networks have been a vital dimension of international political developments since 1945. Recalling the popular slogan "Think globally, act locally," she contends that postwar human rights have been shaped by the efforts of people at the grassroots. She shows that human rights politics are constituted locally and reinforced by transnational linkages in international society. The U.N. system is continuously reinvigorated and strengthened by its ties to local individuals, organizations, and groups engaged in day-to-day rights advocacy. This daily work, in turn, is supported by the ongoing activities from above. Quataert establishes the global contexts for the historical unfolding of human rights advocacy through thorough studies of such cases as the Soviet dissident movement, the mothers' demonstrations in Argentina, the transnational antiapartheid campaign, and coalitions for gender and economic justice. Drawing from many fields of inquiry, including legal studies, philosophy, international relations theory, political science, and gender history, Advocating Dignity is an innovative work that narrates the hopes and bitter struggles that have altered the course of international and domestic relations over the past sixty years.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0612-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction: The New Moral Order: Between Human Dignity and Territorial Sovereignty
    (pp. 1-18)

    The human rights system emerged in 1945 as a victor’s response to the tragedies and atrocities of World War II, a global war that began with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and took its devastating toll on human life and property until the summer of 1945. The war was “total war” unrestrained by law—a war that obliterated the distinctions between soldiers and civilians; destroyed whole towns, villages, and cities; and produced the ghastly death camps of the Nazi Holocaust. Nazi and Axis policies included the mass deportations of people; abuses of prisoners of war; extensive reliance on...

  6. Chapter 1 Raising the Bar, 1900–1949
    (pp. 19-60)

    A near consensus among scholars and journalists charting the impact of human rights principles on state behavior sees l945 as the pivotal moment in the emergence of a formal human rights system—of norms, laws, and permanent intergovernmental bodies committed to rights formulations and oversight. Political scientists substitute the word “regime” for “system,” drawing attention to a binding set of norms and rules relating to specific thematic areas of international coordination. Through comparative inquiry regarding other international regimes, this literature assesses the human rights structure in terms of a spectrum of implementation possibilities, from setting standards to monitoring to binding...

  7. Part I. An Emerging Human Rights Orthodoxy:: The First Round
    • [Part I. Introduction]
      (pp. 61-68)

      After l945, proponents of the new international system of human rights protections faced all the uncertainties of the evolving postwar world. Although institutionalized in U.N. committee structures and defined through declarations and law, the proclamation of human rights had not been matched by adequate enforcement powers. Thus, the meaning of the rights agenda at the level of society remained very much open and in dispute.

      In matters of international law concerning the relations among sovereign states, the place of universal human rights protections was ambiguous from the start. The Charter of the United Nations defended the time-honored norm of domestic...

    • Chapter 2 Cold War Politics and Human Rights Publics: The International Antiapartheid and Soviet Dissident Movements, 1952–90
      (pp. 69-108)

      By 1949, with their address to “the people,” the agreements negotiated in the new U.N. bodies and commissions had proclaimed the international moral linkage of all humanity. Human beings had rights regardless of status, birth, geography, or nationality. They had protections and guarantees through the operative international principles of nondiscrimination and the self-determination of peoples. It was a bold agenda but one that remained at the level of abstraction.

      In international politics, the growing intersection of two transnational movements gave the first concrete expression of this affirmation of shared identity. Rather than remain in local or national contexts away from...

    • Chapter 3 Mothersʹ Courage and U.N. Monitoring of Disappearance, 1973–83
      (pp. 109-140)

      Starting in the early 1970s, evidence of cases of “disappearance” compiled by exiles, refugees, local organizations, and individual survivors began to trickle out of many countries in Central and South America. It was not the first time that the word had appeared in public, however. Several journalists used “disappeared” to describe the chaos of state repression after the Guatemalan coup in 1954 and again in 1964 during a military takeover in Brazil. But the situation received immediate and, as it turned out, sustained international attention after September 1973, when Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, with backing from the U.S. Central Intelligence...

  8. Part II. The Debate Continues:: Critics and New Mechanisms
    • [Part II. Introduction]
      (pp. 141-148)

      The l970s brought together a new set of historical conjunctures that challenged the principles and practices of human rights advocacy around the globe. They added different voices and arguments to the existing debates about how best to protect and enhance human dignity in society. In part, these trends reflected much longer histories—of feminist internationalism, union and labor mobilizations across borders, reformers in both industrialized and colonial settings committed to economic development and social welfare, and ethno-religious community linkages. These networks had started to redraw societal relationships along transnational lines early in the twentieth century. They represented continuities in historical...

    • Chapter 4 The Gender Factor since the 1970s: Universality and the Private Sphere
      (pp. 149-181)

      With an economy of words, human rights activist Alicia Partnoy pinpointed a crucial dilemma that has accompanied women’s efforts to negotiate their role and place in movements for change and liberation. Full integration into the movement can lead to the submergence of women’s specific interests and needs while a separate mobilization safeguarding these issues easily is marginalized. The struggles over human rights causes are no exception.

      In their scope of coverage, human rights norms and laws are gender neutral, embracing humanity as species; in principle, they extend their protections to men and women equally. Thus, the international Convention against Torture...

    • Chapter 5 Citizenship, Socioeconomic Rights, and the Courts in the Age of Transnational Migrations
      (pp. 182-220)

      In the mid-1970s, human rights visions became intricately linked to economic planning goals for members of the U.N. organs and commissions responsible for formulating and monitoring international rights. The shift was part of a set of wider changes in U.N. procedures, which, simultaneously, was expanding the role of local NGOs, victims, and their families in publicizing state abuse and also institutionalizing people’s tribunals at U.N. world congresses. A coalition of new nations vitally concerned with development needs, and allied to socialist-bloc countries, stood at the forefront of the new agenda. Its members were armed with the statistics and detailed reports...

  9. Part III. Human Rights at a Crossroads:: Wars, Crimes, and Priorities
    • [Part III. Introduction]
      (pp. 221-228)

      In the 1990s, global human rights advocates faced a set of distinct challenges that added urgent agendas to their debates and work at the international, national, and local levels. These new developments became layered onto the existing patterns of rights advocacy and networking that continued to evolve from the past. In this sense, the decade of the 1990s emerges as an important era on its own terms for human rights history. I call it the “long” decade of the 1990s, extending roughly from 1989 to 2005. This dating moves away from a formal decade-driven chronology, as if ten years by...

    • Chapter 6 Ethnic Violence, Humanitarian Intervention, and Criminal Accountability in the 1990s
      (pp. 229-261)

      In the “long” 1990s, the societies in an increasing number of states descended into deadly armed conflict and chaos that blurred the standard operating categories of the international human rights machinery. As expressions of societal implosions, they literally bled over territorial borders. Little was familiar to Security Council members, to human rights commissioners, or to the humanitarian wing of the United Nations, although they tended to view these conflicts through familiar prisms of “ancient” ethnic hatreds and the rules of international humanitarian law. Produced by many different contexts and histories, these war-torn situations tended to be internal and international wars...

    • Chapter 7 September 2001 and History
      (pp. 262-293)

      Over the course of the 1990s, as part of wider efforts to consider the processes of social healing and reconciliation, human rights activists around the globe increasingly began to bring issues of historical injustices into the limelight. Responding partly to the demands of victims for truth and responsibility, the debates and experiments with the institutions of “transitional justice” and peace-building models recognized the importance of addressing past grievances to move forward. This attention also accorded with people’s own lived experiences, providing poignant testimony of how the personal and collective memories of traumas continued to survive in the spaces between life’s...

  10. Conclusion: Making a Difference
    (pp. 294-306)

    The lead up to the war in Iraq in early 2003 brought into sharp relief the tension between the human rights politics of international law and multilateral cooperation and the world of great power politics, based on separate calculations of national interests and defense. It seemed to pit two alternative visions of international relations against one another; the crisis over Iraq embroiled virtually the whole world. The weekend of February 14–16, 2003, saw mass global protest movements against the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq under the George W. Bush administration’s announced preemptive war doctrine. In 600 cities in nearly...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 307-340)
  12. Index
    (pp. 341-355)