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Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs

Gender Violence and Reproductive Rights

Publication Year: 2007

In the mid-1990s, when the United Nations adopted positions affirming a woman's right to be free from bodily harm and to control her own reproductive health, it was both a coup for the international women's rights movement and an instructive moment for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to influence UN decision making. Prior to the UN General Assembly's 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and the 1994 decision by the UN's Conference on Population and Development to vault women's reproductive rights and health to the forefront of its global population growth management program, there was little consensus among governments as to what constituted violence against women and how much control a woman should have over reproduction. Jutta Joachim tells the story of how, in the years leading up to these decisions, women's organizations got savvy—framing the issues strategically, seizing political opportunities in the international environment, and taking advantage of mobilizing structures—and overcame the cultural opposition of many UN-member states to broadly define the two issues and ultimately cement women's rights as an international cause. Joachim's deft examination of the documents, proceedings, and actions of the UN and women's advocacy NGOs—supplemented by interviews with key players from concerned parties, and her own participant-observation—reveals flaws in state-centered international relations theories as applied to UN policy, details the tactics and methods that NGOs can employ in order to push rights issues onto the UN agenda, and offers insights into the factors that affect NGO influence. In so doing, Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs departs from conventional international relations theory by drawing on social movement literature to illustrate how rights groups can motivate change at the international level.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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p. 8

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pp. ix-13

This book started out as one on the emergence of the international women’s rights regime. My plans changed, however, when I arrived in New York to gather documents and materials at the United Nations libraries. There, the last preparatory conference for the International Conference on Population and Development was taking place, and in ...

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Introduction: From the Margins to the Center—Women’s Rights, NGOs, and the United Nations

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pp. 1-14

On December 20, 1993, the UN General Assembly in New York adopted with unanimous consent the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, condemning gender violence within both the private and the public spheres as a violation of human rights (United Nations 1993a; also reprinted as the appendix to this ...

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1. NGOs and UN Agenda Setting: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Framing Strategies

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pp. 15-40

Over the course of the past decade, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have played an increasingly important role in defining the agendas of UN organizations.1 A glance at UN specialized conferences illustrates how NGOs have played a crucial role in winning international recognition among governments for issues that once were considered ...

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2. Rallying for Peace and Equal Nationality Rights: Women’s Organizations between 1915 and 1945

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pp. 41-72

This chapter is devoted to the first wave of the women’s movement. It traces women’s international organizing at the turn of the nineteenth century, which has thus far received little scholarly attention.1 Two of the most prominent issue campaigns will be of particular interest: peace and equal nationality rights. The first evolved around the First ...

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3. Equality, Development, and Peace: The UN Decade for Women, 1975–1985

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pp. 73-102

In response to the pressure exerted by women’s organizations, particularly the Women’s International Democratic Federation, and following a resolution of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the UN declared 1975–85 as the Decade for Women (United Nations 1972) and organized three World Conferences for Women during it: the first ...

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4. Women’s Rights as Human Rights: The Case of Violence against Women

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pp. 103-132

Violence against women has been a global problem for millennia. Throughout the world, women have been battered, abused, tortured, raped, and even killed simply because they are women. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused by a man in her lifetime, and among women ...

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5. Reproductive Rights and Health: Women’s Organizations and the Population Establishment

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pp. 133-162

The international campaign on reproductive rights and health, culminating in the inclusion of the issue at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 1994, exhibits similar patterns as that regarding violence against women: In the mid-1980s, Northern and Southern women conducted an international tribunal protesting ...

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6. NGOs and International Organizations

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pp. 163-184

How, why, and under what conditions can nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) influence the agendas of international organizations? Conceiving of conventional international relations approaches as insufficient for answering this question, this book draws on various elements of the social movement literature to develop an alternative theoretical ...

Appendix: UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women

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pp. 185-192


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pp. 193-204


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pp. 205-224


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pp. 225-244

E-ISBN-13: 9781589012332
E-ISBN-10: 158901233X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589011755
Print-ISBN-10: 1589011759

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 608685199
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Non-governmental organizations.
  • Women -- Violence against -- Prevention -- International cooperation
  • Reproductive rights -- International cooperation.
  • Women -- Societies and clubs.
  • International organization.
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