Presentation on theme: "Transnational Politics The origins of (Northern) transnational activism."— Presentation transcript:
Transnational Politics The origins of (Northern) transnational activism
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
‘Appeal for Amnesty, 1961’ What is Buchanan’s goal in the article? How does he challenge the conventional wisdom?
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.