Human rights activists | transnational advocacy networks

Transnational advocacy networks

Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, in “Activists Beyond Borders” define transnational advocacy networks as “…networks of activists, distinguishable largely by the centrality of principled ideas or values in motivating their formation.”[14] This definition can be seen in many human rights organizations.

Keck and Sikkink write from a context before the universal availability of information technology and at this point the main actors are the States.[15] The boomerang pattern, argued by Keck and Sikkink, is a model of advocacy where a State A causes “blockage” by not protecting or violating rights. Non-state actors provide other non-state actors from a State B with information about the blockage and those non-state actors inform State B. State B places pressure on State A and/or has intergovernmental organizations place pressure on State A to change its policies.[16]

In order to facilitate transnational advocacy networks, the network needs to have common values and principles, access to information and be able to effectively use that information, believe their efforts will cause change and effectively frame their values.[17] Information use is historically very important to human rights organizations. Human rights methodology is considered “promoting change by promoting facts.”[18] By using facts, state and non-state actors can use that viable information to pressure human rights violators.

Human rights advocacy networks focus on either countries or issues by targeting particular audiences in order to gain support.[17] To gain audience support human rights organizations need to cultivate relationships through networking, have access to resources and maintain an institutional structure.[19]

Activists commonly use four tactics in their advocacy efforts: 1) Information politics provides comprehensive and useful information on an issue that otherwise might not be heard from sources who otherwise might be overlooked; 2) Symbolic politics uses powerful symbolic events as a way to increase awareness surrounding an issue; 3) Leverage politics utilizes material leverage (examples such as goods, money, or votes), moral leverage (the "mobilization of shame") or both in order to gain influence over more powerful actors; 4) Accountability politics holds those who make commitments to a cause accountable for their actions or lack thereof.[20]

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