Ethics & International Affairs Volume 13 (1999): Articles: Human Rights NGOs: The Power of Persuasion [Abstract]

Dec 4, 1999

At the end of World War II, the phrase "human rights" was virtually unknown, whether in the media, in standard textbooks, or as a guideline for state conduct in the emerging international community. It was nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that made the phrase a core element of the United Nations Charter in 1944, even as they pressed for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted three years later. This was but the beginning of a historic effort to make the Declaration a fundamental standard for measuring progress in civilized society. If the principal motivation was the prevention of another Holocaust, NGOs would fulfill the indispensable function, projected by Eleanor Roosevelt, of serving as the "curious grapevine" that would enlighten everyone about their rights and channel information about human rights violations to the world community.

This essay is about the "curious grapevine," an extraordinary tale of how NGOs, through their persuasion, have made human rights a major item in international discourse in the media, state chancellories, and international institutions. NGOs have played the leading role in the creation of international standards and in establishing legally binding treaties incorporating these standards. They are central to the process of adopting implementing organs to these treaties and in providing the essential documentation and briefings to make these organs work.

To read or purchase the full text of this article, click here.

You may also like

AUG 9, 2023 Podcast

Nuclear Ethics for this Moment

This panel explores ethical questions surrounding nuclear weapons and builds upon a symposium published in the most recent issue of "Ethics & International Affairs."

MAR 15, 2022 Journal

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 36.1 (Spring 2022)

The highlight of this issue is a roundtable organized by Jesse Kirkpatrick on moral injury, trauma, and war, featuring contributions by Jesse Kirkpatrick, Daniel Rothenberg, ...

JAN 4, 2022 Journal

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 35.4 (Winter 2021)

The issue features a book symposium organized by Michael Blake on Anna Stilz's "Territorial Sovereignty," with contributions from Adom Getachew; Christopher Heath Wellman; and Michael ...

Not translated

This content has not yet been translated into your language. You can request a translation by clicking the button below.

Request Translation