Creating Human Rights

Creating Human Rights: How Noncitizens Made Sex Persecution Matter to the World

Lisa S. Alfredson
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Creating Human Rights
    Book Description:

    Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 Creating Human Rights offers the first systematic study of a pioneering women's refugee movement and its challenge, as an international trigger case, to more conventional paths toward human rights policy development. Lisa S. Alfredson argues that such cases, which unfold in the context of a specific country and have profound impacts on international human rights efforts, have been neglected in research and pose a challenge to recent theorizing on human rights change. In the early 1990s, Canada witnessed the emergence of the world's first comprehensive refugee policy for women who were seeking protection from female-specific forms of violence-rape, domestic abuse, public stoning of adulterers, genital mutilation-while challenging a gender-biased system. Close examination of this novel movement, Alfredson contends, provides crucial insights into why and how states may articulate new human rights that set international precedents. Analyzing original empirical data and sociopolitical historical trends, the book documents the decisive global impacts of the movement while shedding light on the paradox of noncitizen politics and asylum seekers' little recognized political strength. Contrary to expectation, findings suggest transnational networks and pressures are not required for some forms of change. Rather, international trigger cases illuminate a range of other key actors and advocacy strategies leading, subsequently, to a more comprehensive understanding of human rights acceptance. In the case of the women's refugee movement, the convergence of human rights and noncitizen politics points toward a new dimension for human rights scholarship that, in the current age of globalization, is becoming critically important.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0106-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: The Sex Persecution Campaigns
    (pp. 1-29)

    Thérèse’s and Nada’s experiences are both typical and atypical for asylum seekers. All asylum seekers experience life in the balance as their eligibility for international protection as “refugees” is judged. Indeed, as one eminent refugee scholar captured so vividly, when it comes to issues of refugee recognition “the definitional problem ... is not mere academic exercise but has bearing on matters of life and death” (Zolberg et al. 1989:3). Also typical is the “burden of proof” which inland asylum seekers bear (Schenk 1996). That is, far from being a simple process of doling out aid to victims, refugee determinations are...

  6. Chapter 2 Human Rights, Social Movement, and Asylum Seeking
    (pp. 30-80)

    How are human rights developed for specific populations that lack them? Human rights, and human rights abuses more broadly, are increasingly said to be both driven by and driving globalization (Schwab and Pollis 2000; Evans 2001; Brysk 2002; Howard-Hassmann 2005). Indeed, theories globalization have had a marked impact on human rights scholarship. The following explores different types of human rights change in the broader context of globalization in order to capture variations that current models neglect. This illuminates how human rights scholarship has absorbed the false dichotomies that plague reigning theories of globalization and helps to explain the blind side...

  7. Chapter 3 Global Challenges and Opportunities for Sex-Based Asylum Seeking
    (pp. 81-111)

    To appreciate global constraints and emerging opportunities women asylum seekers we must begin by examining gender biases historically underpinning international refugee and human rights law and manner and extent to which they may be reified or changed in national contexts. We can then consider more recent global developments that shifted the structural context for asylum seeking by women and constituted critical building blocks for policy changes in the early 1990s. The fundamental shifts seen in this global history of women refugees paints a landscape emerging global political opportunities, mobilizing structures, and cultural framings that were essential for national level policy...

  8. Chapter 4 Moving In: Asylum Seekers’ National Rights, Resources, and Opportunities
    (pp. 112-134)

    The gendered international structural context of political opportunities, mobilizing vehicles, and approaches to framing migration, discussed in Chapter 3, interacts with and affects national migration systems, which in turn further shape international migration trends. The resulting institutional logic of asylum seeking, refugee determination, and policy-making processes makes asylum seekers’ policy agency viable. As a “subsystem of the migration system” (Boutang and Papademetriou 1994: 20), Canada’s migration system, its policies, and the ways they are formulated must now be examined to identify changes in national political opportunities, mobilizing and framing structures that preceded and facilitated the sex persecution campaigns. The following...

  9. Chapter 5 “Use My Name”: Noncitizen Identity, Decisions, and Mobilization
    (pp. 135-174)

    The importance of ideas and ideology, and their formal and strategic expression by actors attempting to influence the external environment, cannot be understated. McAdam explains: “Mediating between opportunity and action are the people and the ... meanings they attach to their situations” (1982:48). It is important to understand why actors act in the way they do, and this means not taking for granted their decisions and the intended course of a campaign. In the following, I explore why and how asylum seekers and supporters got involved in campaigning, even when risks were involved, and with what implications for the internal...

  10. Chapter 6 Universalizing National Rights: Political Confrontation and Cultural Framing
    (pp. 175-225)

    In the period leading up to the campaigns, emerging rights, resources, and collective interests provided important opportunities and building blocks for asylum seekers and their core supporters, while relations between asylum seekers and supporters shaped actor participation and the core campaign network’s internal political culture as a whole. We now need to understand how subsequent campaigning processes influenced the external environment. Which fralning strategies and tactics mobilized the public and reversed government responses? How and to what extent did national and international rights and discourses influence campaign demands, strategic choices, and outcomes? What impact did asylum seekers specifically have upon...

  11. Chapter 7 Making Sex Persecution Matter
    (pp. 226-266)

    What are the global impacts of the refugee movement studied, for policy and theory? In conclusion I illuminate the development and entrenchment of women’s human rights in refugee policy at international, regional, and national levels, as impacted by the Canadian model. I then consider the theoretical implications of the political process studied, revisiting explanations and implications of new noncitizen rights in particular and the broader means through which new human rights are made viable.

    The Canadian Guidelines necessarily built on upon previous advances in knowledge about women’s rights generally and women refugees specifically, but marked a fundamental and radical turning...

  12. Appendix: Comprehensive and Novel Aspects of Gender-Related Claims
    (pp. 267-268)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 269-282)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-310)
  15. Index
    (pp. 311-314)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 315-315)