Series 2 No. 9 (Spring 2003): Making Human Rights Work in a Globalizing World

Because globalization has facilitated the formation of transnational networks of activists, north-south NGO partnerships, and transborder linkages of a broad spectrum of social movements, it has often been credited with enhancing the popular legitimacy of human rights worldwide. But globalization can also pose serious challenges for groups that use a human rights framework. The state-based framework of human rights obligations, for example, has become quite problematic in a world in which the fulfillment of rights in developing countries often depends on the political and economic institutions of developed states, powerful nonstate actors, and the structure of international institutions. Many governments lack the resources to provide their citizens with access to basic health care and education. These resource constraints are often caused by changes in patterns of foreign investment, trade flows and world market prices over which individual governments exercise little control. Moreover, dependence on foreign creditors, international institutions and international aid can limit the capabilities of a country’s citizens to participate meaningfully in the choice of its policies and institutions. The Spring 2003 issue of Human Rights Dialogue advocates and practitioners explore how the framework of human rights can more effectively address the challenges of a globalizing world.

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