NGOs and Human Rights Promotion: Socialisation, Framing, and the Case of West Papua (2008)
AuthorsGilbert, Paul Carsonshow all
Recent developments in international relations have seen dramatic increases in the number and activities of human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This has inspired research that seeks to explain processes of human rights socialisation, particularly in crisis zones. In this context, NGO advocacy is often welcomed as being inherently beneficial for adherence to human rights principles. Such a position, however, fails to account for the critiques offered by theorists who suggest that the wielding of any power to affect change can have negative as well as positive outcomes, and the critiques of realist international relations theorists who assert the dangers of unqualified promotion of normative concerns in the face of power interests. In this context, this thesis offers a critical evaluation of the contributions of NGO advocacy in human rights socialisation.
Two models of human rights socialisation – the spiral and boomerang models – are utilised in examining human rights advocacy in West Papua, a province of Indonesia. The West Papuan case study indicates that detrimental outcomes can result from the failure of human rights advocates to account for political interests and state sovereignty in their strategies of human rights promotion. Human rights campaigns framed in terms of people’s rights to physical security and subsistence, instead of more political rights, such as the right to selfdetermination, are likely to be more positive for human rights adherence. This points to the desirability of a hierarchy of rights principles in human rights advocacy and suggests, for the socialisation models used, a need for clearer distinctions between the human rights principles prescribed for advocacy.