Human rights practitioners have become increasingly concerned with how to translate universal norms into locally meaningful standards. The field of human geography offers several methodologies and theories that help with this endeavor. Using a geographic perspective for human rights work means focusing on physical access, available personnel, and other components of implementation at a local level. Moreover, it approaches human rights work with the assumption that physical space is built by human actions, and that the way in which it is created plays a role in how human rights violations occur. Taking a geographical perspective to human rights violations creates more effective implementation techniques and new causes of action. These are illustrated through a general overview of the field of human geography and through application to two human rights: the right to housing and the right to free political speech.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, through the work of its Commission, has been interpreted in an increasingly dynamic fashion since its establishment in 1986. Through some innovative jurisprudence on the extensive range of rights available in the Charter, the Commission is starting to be taken seriously. However, one area that has been on the margins of international human rights law, sexual orientation, has also remained largely outside the consideration of the African Commission. This is despite the fact that violations continue against gays and lesbians across the African continent. This article seeks to outline how the African Charter regards the issue of gay and lesbian rights and how those working in this area can make use of the mechanisms available through the African Commission.
Little has been reported on how survivors of trafficking integrate into new communities and what types of rehabilitation services and programs they may need to live independently and self-sufficiently. The release of federal funds under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to assist certain survivors of trafficking has spurred the rapid and eclectic development of advocacy programs and services. This article explores the needs of survivors of trafficking, the variety of services and advocacy programs that are developing to assist them, and the complex reactions of immigrant communities to incidents of trafficking.
This article critically examines the effectiveness of emergent transnational Indigenous rights networks during the first United Nations (UN) Indigenous Decade (1995–2004). Keck and Sikkink's five-part model is utilized in the analysis but is found to be inadequate when gauging the overall effectiveness of Indigenous political mobilization during the first UN decade. A sixth factor, co-optation, better explains the impacts of "mainstreaming" Indigenous rights within the UN system (through blunting and channeling processes) and the subsequent shortcomings of the first UN Indigenous Decade. Potential future strategies for global Indigenous political mobilization outside of the UN system are discussed.
This article analyzes recent efforts by India's Dalits (Untouchables) to transform centuries-old caste-based discrimination into an international human rights issue. Comparing early failures and later successes in international activism, the article demonstrates that the Dalits have achieved limited but important advances among transnational NGOs, international organizations, and foreign governments since the late 1990s. What explains these successes—and what lessons does the Dalit experience hold for other groups seeking to transform domestic grievances into internationally recognized human rights issues? The article makes two primary arguments. First, organizational changes among Dalit activists played a major role in these successes, most importantly the formation of a unified Dalit network within India and the subsequent creation of a transnational solidarity network. Second, rhetorical changes played a key role, as Dalits moved from their long-standing focus on caste-based discrimination to a broader framing within the more internationally acceptable terminology of discrimination based on "work and descent." The article concludes by discussing broader implications for international human rights activism by other aggrieved groups.
Along with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has received the most religion-based reservations by Muslim states on various articles and/or on the treaty as a whole. Conversely, the Convention is the only international treaty that contains an explicit reference to Islamic law. Based on relevant United Nations documentation, this article undertakes a comparative study in order to elaborate upon ways that religious legal traditions impact upon implementation of the Convention by Muslim states. The article also examines the relevance of the reservations to the implementations of the treaty by reserving states.
Truth commissions have become key mechanisms in transitional justice schemes in post conflict societies in order to assure transitions to peace, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. However, few studies examine what must happen to ensure that the transition process initiated by a truth commission successfully continues after the commission concludes its truth-gathering work and submits its final report. This article argues that while attention often focuses on prosecutions and institutional reforms, reparations also play a critical role. The authors share their observations of how government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society sectors and victim-survivor's associations struggle over reparations in post truth commission Peru, offering a preliminary analysis of key theoretical suppositions about transitional justice: they explore whether the act of telling the truth to an official body is something that helps or hinders a victim-survivor in his or her own recovery process, and whether in giving testimonies victim-survivors place particular demands upon the state. The authors conclude that while testimony giving may possibly have temporary cathartic effects, it must be followed by concrete actions. Truth tellers make an implicit contract with their interlocutors to respond through acknowledgment and redress.
This article takes issue with the argument that human rights are not absolute and should be balanced in relation to competing communal aims. The balancing of qualified human rights is a key practice of the European Court of Human Rights and a great deal depends on a clear analysis of the ramifications of balancing for our understanding of human rights aims. The author does not seek to propose an alternative to balancing, but aims to show that it is not necessarily coherent with human rights principles or the kinds of functions international human rights institutions are thought to perform.