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  • Series: Elgar Studies in Human Rights series x
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Alison Brysk

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Phillip M. Ayoub

The chapter offers an account of the transnational process of movement mobilization surrounding LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans*) activism in Europe. For a movement that has emerged with speed and suddenness on the global stage of 21st century activism, it sheds lights on the transnational dynamics of mobilizing new actors and new identities across borders. It thus builds on earlier conceptions of national political opportunity structures for mobilization, to further explore how they interact with regional institutions. Specifically, the author asks: How do LGBT minorities organize across borders? How do identities and skills travel and adapt in various national contexts? The findings suggest that LGBT activism relies on transnational resources – primarily, social spaces and organizational capacity – that are scarce in many member states but readily available in others. These opportunities among member states serve as mobilizing structures that bring together distinct groups of international actors. Internationalization also alters the tactics that transnational actors use when engaging with authorities in the target state. Employing socialization mechanisms that highlight appropriate behavior, actors tactically frame their demands in a European discourse by associating the issue of LGBT acceptance with democratic responsibilities as members of the European Union community.

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Kiyoteru Tsutsui

The chapter examines how local actors become part of the international human rights system and contribute to the reinforcement and expansion of the system. The author examines one instance of the establishment of a new type of rights issue, discrimination based on descent and work. Drawing on his work on minority rights activism in Japan, he focuses on a discriminated minority group in Japan called Burakumin, which led the process of establishing a new norm about descent-based discrimination. Collaborating with other international actors, they made concerted efforts to establish discrimination based on descent and work as a new human rights issue in the international system, and eventually succeeded in passing resolutions in United Nations forums regarding this type of discrimination. The author traces the history of Burakumin activism, focusing on their foray into international forums since the 1970s and their efforts to establish a new rights issue since the 1990s.

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Felipe Gómez Isa

Indigenous peoples have been systematically excluded from the process of evolution of international human rights law. In the 1970s and 1980s the United Nations (UN) started to pay increasing attention to the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide, with a number of initiatives to adequately deal with their claims of protection and to open institutional spaces for their meaningful participation. Against the background of the emerging mobilization of indigenous peoples, some relevant international legal documents were adopted, and UN human rights treaty bodies and UN specialized agencies gradually focused on the marginalized situation of indigenous peoples. The most remarkable achievement of this move is the adoption on 13 September 2007 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the UN General Assembly by an overwhelming majority. Despite its non-binding nature, the UN Declaration could play a relevant role in the dynamic process of expansion of norms and mechanisms for the protection of indigenous peoples. In this sense, the context, the content, the institutional architecture for its implementation and the circumstances under which this Declaration was adopted, with the strong backing from indigenous peoples themselves, help clarify the legal scope and the prospects of the Declaration to influence both state behavior and the actions of international organizations as regards indigenous peoples, in particular the UN.

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Alison Brysk

Like other forms of human rights abuse, violence against women is challenged most successfully when it can be linked to a pre-existing and powerful frame, as in “sex slavery” for human trafficking, rape as a war crime, or “health rights” for FGM/C (female genital mutilation/cutting). But acting globally to end violence against women also requires an expansion of human rights frames, claims, and mechanisms. The chapter reviews the pattern of expanding claims for violence against women, and then considers a range of framing strategies by global campaigns against sexual violence: fitting the war crimes frame, bridging frames between official rape as torture and ethnic rape as discrimination, crafting a new frame for sexual harassment, and lagging frames for reproductive rights. Even within campaigns against a single genre of abuse, the author argues that differences in the location and framing influence the repertoire of global, legal, and campaign response to gender violence.

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Madeline Baer

In 2010 both the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council passed resolutions recognizing the human right to water and sanitation. The resolutions acknowledge that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights. The chapter examines the process of establishing water and sanitation as new human rights, with particular attention to the actors who championed and challenged this acceptance. The author analyses the strategies, obstacles, and accomplishments of the right to water campaigns with a focus on the major platforms used by activists for discursive debate over the issue. The chapter discusses how these transnational campaigns for the right to water are working both within established human rights institutions and outside them to define the responsibilities of states and global actors for a new human rights claim. The water justice movement’s successes are linked to effective collaborations between non-human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and states in the Global South to redefine water in the international system.

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Michael Stohl and Cynthia Stohl

In the chapter the authors explore the growing corporate social responsibility movement, and the evolving interrelationships and expectations of states, non-governmental organizations, and corporations. They focus specifically on the development of new conceptions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an expansion of the concept of human rights across several generations, with special attention to communication rights in the new media environment. They suggest that emerging communication technologies in the digital age are now reshaping concern with employee and stakeholder communication rights. These concerns transcend issues of the workplace and expand the public and scholarly conception of human rights.

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Shareen Hertel

The prevailing story of norms evolution in international relations and social movement scholarship has tended to weight the power of persuasion in favor of dominant actors over marginalized ones. It has often assumed that advocates are active across borders, moving ideas from the centers of normative (and financial and political) power “down” to the sites of norms violation someplace else. But what if people on the margins either dismissed, ignored, or simply rose above existing human rights frameworks to forge new norms and new modes of implementing rights on their own? And what if their actions ultimately enhanced (rather than detracted from) the mainstream human rights canon? The chapter takes that possibility seriously. Drawing insights from a case study of the decade-long Right to Food Campaign in India, it demonstrates that new legal interpretations of economic rights and creative new modes of progressive implementation of such rights are emerging in ways not predicted by dominant explanations of norms evolution.

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Wayne Sandholtz

The promise of international human rights law has been that universal standards would elevate local rights practices.  But international human rights norms make a difference when they are internalized and integrated into domestic institutions.  The chapter argues that regional human rights systems can promote that integration in ways that global mechanisms (human rights treaty bodies, the International Criminal Court) cannot.  Regional human rights systems can integrate with domestic legal institutions when: (1) regional rights treaties are incorporated into domestic law; (2) regional courts regularly scrutinize and condemn national practices that fall short of regional standards; and (3) domestic institutions internalize the decisions of the regional court in interpreting and applying domestic law.  A comparison of the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American System of Human Rights explores the conditions under which integrated regional human rights systems emerge and develop. The author suggest that the courts’ strategies for extending rights depend on the level of human rights fulfillment in the member states (their politico-legal contexts) and the type or status of the rights concerned, distinguishing between qualified and non-derogable rights.

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Valerie M. Hudson

The purpose of the chapter is to trace the arc of the idea that there could be a “feminist” state foreign/security policy, and then to assess both the promise and the pitfalls of such a stance. In this case, the state would become the main agent promoting this human rights expansion. A feminist foreign/security policy (FFSP) would embrace the idea that human rights and national security are not contradictory goals of state policy unless we choose to see them as such. However, an FFSP would go further and also propose that women’s empowerment, women’s voice, and women’s security constitute the great bridge between the two aspirations. The selection of Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State in 2009, and her tenure until early 2013, provides a rich case study of how the “women, peace, and security” standpoint articulated by the United Nations could be translated into a state agenda. However, given the state’s top-down nature, there will always be problems with utilizing the state to expand and secure human rights. Understanding the nature and source of the problems faced in this case is instructive, including moral quandaries, state inconsistency, insincere genuflection, distorted participation, and perverse incentives.