Human rights: mass or elite movement?

Are human rights principles, policies, and approaches coming down to earth?

Photo:Shutterstock/Donatas Dabravolskas (All rights reserved)


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seeks to improve the life conditions, dignity, and well-being of society's most oppressed, vulnerable, and impoverished groups. The international human rights machinery, however, is embedded in high-flying international organizations, such as the United Nations, and in extremely elite professions, such as international diplomacy and law.

Are human rights principles, policies, and approaches coming down to earth? Can local civil society groups overcome the international human rights machinery's cultural, educational, and social barriers? Can they develop strong and explicit human rights constituencies among ordinary people? The articles in this section address these questions issues head-on, beginning with a description of new "Human Rights Perception Polls" in Mexico, India, Morocco, and Colombia.






Do South Africans really have the right to protest?

By: Julian Brown 

South Africans’ right to protest exists on paper, but authorities have effectively suppressed dissent by making it too dangerous.

Activists in an international system: pushing for change in Sri Lanka

By: Ruki Fernando

Local and international activists have been crucial in getting a UN response in Sri Lanka.

Human rights at a crossroads: 18 months after Ayotzinapa

By: Janice Gallagher & Paula Martinez Gutierrez

Eighteen months after Ayotzinapa, Mexican civil society has pulled together in new and promising ways to challenge the state.

For Moroccan rights groups, good reputations aren’t enough

By: Rachid Touhtou  & James Ron & Shannon Golden
Français | العربية

Without building a strong popular base, the Moroccan human rights community cannot capitalize on its good reputation.

Is the emerging middle class our best hope for global rights activism?

By: Doutje Lettinga
Español | Français | العربية

A global poll into perceptions of human rights confirms there is hope for international human rights organizations to build alliances within Southern civil societies ...

Strategic choices facing Israeli rights group during the current war

By: Dahlia Scheindlin
עברית | العربية | Español | Français

How should Israeli rights groups respond to this new war, and to the hatred many Jewish Israelis feel towards them and their work?

The struggle for a truly grassroots human rights movement

By: James Ron & David Crow & Shannon Golden
Español | Français | العربية | Português | Türkçe

Using cutting-edge human rights perception polls, the authors explore links between social class and domestic human rights movements in Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, ...

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