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Transnational Politics The origins of (Northern) transnational activism.

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1 Transnational Politics The origins of (Northern) transnational activism

2 Today  Origins of TANs  The Making of a Human Rights Movement  Reading:  Tom Buchanan: ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’ Wednesday, 1/30/2008Hans Peter Schmitz

3 ‘Appeal for Amnesty, 1961’  What is Buchanan’s goal in the article?  How does he challenge the conventional wisdom?

4 History of Amnesty  Setting the record straight  Common accounts of AI’s origins, p. 577):  Benenson’s flash of inspiration  Fortuitous circumstances in world politics  What is missing  Benenson had a long history of activism (Spanish civil war, International Commission of Jurists)  Benenson was part of the British elite.  Benenson converted to Catholicism in 1958.

5 Redefining Political Imprisonment  Previous campaigns:  Communists defend communist prisoners  Catholics defend catholic prisoners; etc.  Amnesty appeal: Transcending partisanship  Defend a political prisoner not because of what s/he believed, but because of the fact they were imprisoned for a belief.  Strategic goal of building impartial legitimacy:  Those on the left only defending prisoners in authoritarian dictatorships.  Those on the right only defending victims of Communist rule.

6 Define Political Prisoner  Prisoner of Conscience: “any person who is physically restrained from expressing any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence” (p. 585)

7 Early objections to impartiality Quoting Hugh Gaitskell (Labor Party leader, p. 588)  Communist regimes repress dissent without necessarily creating prisoners of conscience.  Some security measures should not be seen as human rights violations.  ‘To put France alongside the Soviet Union’ minimizes the extend of violations in Communist regimes.

8 How did Amnesty International persist?  Development of a ‘methodology,’ which empowered its participants/members  National sections and groups (Threes groups: adoption of three prisoners)  Gendered division of labor  Leadership: male  Volunteers: female  Later: Hierarchical organization

9 Benenson’s goals (p. 595)  Benenson’s idealism :  Go beyond the symptom of political imprisonment.  Address the root causes of violations.  Membership’s pragmatism:  Write letters and feel good about themselves.  Grow and expand the organization.  Inward-looking.

10 What did NGOs accomplish?  1964: MacBride vs. Benenson (p. 595 top)  Today: Failures of the human rights movement (Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda, China, Yugoslavia, ‘war on terror’ etc.)  ‘Shaming’ and exposing violations is not enough.  Human rights as a professional career undermines grassroots activism.  Transnational norms take on different meaning locally.  Human rights focus on individuals only; exclude other utopian models.

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