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Advocating Dignity

Human Rights Mobilizations in Global Politics

By Jean H. Quataert

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi

The origin of this book in some ways reflects my own intellectual biography as a German historian. It follows from my earlier study of the medical philanthropic associations run by patriotic women in the territories...

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Introduction: The New Moral Order: Between Human Dignity and Territorial Sovereignty

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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...

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1. Raising the Bar, 1900-1949

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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,...

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Part I. An Emerging Human Rights Orthodoxy: The First Round

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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...

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2. Cold War Politics and Human Rights Publics: The International Antiapartheid and Soviet Dissident Movements, 1952

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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...

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3. Mothers’ Courage and U.N. Monitoring of Disappearance, 1973–83

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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...

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Part II. The Debate Continues: Critics and New Mechanisms

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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...

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4. The Gender Factor since the 1970s: Universality and the Private Sphere

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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...

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5. Citizenship, Socioeconomic Rights, and the Courts in the Age of Transnational Migrations

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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...

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Part III. Human Rights at a Crossroads: Wars, Crimes, and Priorities

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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...

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6. Ethnic Violence, Humanitarian Intervention, and Criminal Accountability in the 1990s

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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...

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7. September 2001 and History

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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...

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Conclusion: Making a Difference

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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...


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pp. 341-355

E-ISBN-13: 9780812206128
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812221275

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights