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Creating Human Rights

How Noncitizens Made Sex Persecution Matter to the World

By Lisa S. Alfredson

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights


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pp. C-ii


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pp. iii-iii


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pp. iv-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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1 Introduction: The Sex Persecution Campaigns

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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...

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2 Human Rights, Social Movement, and Asylum Seeking

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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 of globalization have had a marked impact on human rights scholarship. The ...

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3 Global Challenges and Opportunities for Sex-Based Asylum Seeking

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pp. 81-111

To appreciate global constraints and emerging opportunities for women asylum seekers we must begin by examining gender biases historically underpinning international refugee and human rights law and the manner and extent to which they may be reified or changed in national contexts. We can then consider more recent global developments that...

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4 Moving In: Asylum Seekers' National Rights, Resources, and Opportunities

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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 ...

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5 "Use My Name": Noncitizen Identity, Decisions, and Mobilization

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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 ...

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6 Universalizing National Rights: Political Confrontation and Cultural Framing

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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 ...

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7 Making Sex Persecution Matter

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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 ...

Appendix: Comprehensive and Novel Aspects of Gender- Related Claims

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pp. 267-268


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pp. 269-282


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pp. 283-310


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pp. 311-314


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pp. 315-315

E-ISBN-13: 9780812201062
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812241259

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
Series Editor Byline: Bert B. Lockwood, Jr., Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 859160828
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Creating Human Rights

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Subject Headings

  • Sexual abuse victims -- Services for -- Canada.
  • Women refugees -- Services for -- Canada.
  • Women immigrants -- Services for -- Canada.
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