The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Globalizing Human Rights

June 18, 2013

My colleague and friend James Ron has a new article up at Open Democracy (with Shannon Golden and David Crow) on asymmetric access of global populations to human rights machinery. The article is one in a new Open Democracy series “Open Global Rights,” which aims to ” relocate the [human rights] conversation away from the west and to the Global South.”

Ron, Golden and Crow’s breakdown of new survey data from Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, and India suggests what this “conversation” looks like:

Some say human rights are an ideology imposed on the rest by the powerful west. Consequently, critics say, human rights ideas don’t resonate as broadly as they should. Our Human Rights Perception Polls, however, show that differences within countries, rather than between world regions, pose an equal, or perhaps even greater, challenge. Human rights, we find, are more “toproots” than grassroots, although there are signs of progress. The data show that among our survey populations, human rights language, people and activities are better established among elites than among society’s lower echelons. Unfortunately, this means that those who stand to benefit most from human rights norms—the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed—have less access to the human rights tools they need. To break through this glass floor, domestic human rights workers will have to redouble their efforts and find new ways of becoming locally relevant.

Read the whole thing here

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.