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Emerging Powers

Emerging powers and human rights


In our first discussion our contributors evaluated the stance that newly powerful states take towards human rights.


Can Brazil promote change without changing itself

Brazil has an adroit capacity to identify problems in the way human rights are being addressed internationally. But Brazil needs to set an example through its own actions. Translations: Português, Français, Español.

Latest responses:

Can Brazil help roll back US surveillance?

Robert Valencia

Brazil too ‘traditional’ to be a global human rights leader

Jeffrey Cason

Can India be an international human rights leader?

As an emerging economy with a growing work force, India believes it should have a voice in global affairs. No one disagrees. But then, on crucial foreign policy issues, India should take initiatives that seek an end to human suffering. Translations: Español, 中国语文हिंदी

Latest responses:

Time for India to clean up its act

Babloo Loitongbam

India's global human rights advocacy: hamstrung by Kashmir and Cold War syndrome

Suhas Chakma

The so-called rights revolution in India

Neera Chandhoke

Rights reconceived: India’s new approach

Mathew Idiculla

A reformed role model: India, a reluctant rights promoter

Ram Mashru

Misplaced priorities? Global leadership and India’s domestic neglect of human rights

Aseem Prakash

The struggle for a truly grassroots human rights movement

Pilot testing Using cutting-edge human rights perception polls, the authors explore links between social class and domestic human rights movements in Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, and India. Social elites, they find, are better connected to human rights representatives than the masses. Translations: Español, Français, العربية, 中国语文, हिंदी, Português, Türkçe

Latest responses:

East African rights activists are badly out of touch

Florence Ochango

Activists and elites: connecting the dots

Steve Crawshaw

Doing Orwell proud: “human rights” slogans in Mexico

Barbara Frey

Elites still matter when protecting human rights

Felipe Cordero

In defense of 'professional' human rights organizations

Fateh Azzam

Neither elites nor masses: protecting human rights in the real world

Janice Gallagher

Reforming and transforming: A multi-directional investigation of human rights

Karina Ansolabehere

Human rights for whom? A closer look at elitism and women's rights in Africa

Moiyattu Banya

Speaking with an elite accent: human rights and the "masses"

Ezequiel González-Ocantos

Human rights: a mirror for all

Eilat Maoz

Belief in common humanity is the first principle

Nidal Al-Azza

Fighting abuses in existing powers

Clifford Bob

Civil society, human rights and Jewish-Israeli communitarians

Liora Sion

Where is the humanism in Israel?

Lori Allen

Human Rights, "Human Beings" and Israel

Ian S. Lustick

The 'no grassroots' critique of human rights: fair or misleading?

Geoff Dancy

Making universalism resonate locally

Jessica Montell

Making human rights matter to the marginalised

Nicola Browne and Dessie Donnelly

International NGOs supporting grassroots movements: who talks and who listens?

Kate Nash

The antithesis of elitism

Shaurimoyo

A global human rights movement?

Peter Brett

Human rights: past their sell-by date

It is activists, not states who will make a difference in future. But western-led rights organizations may have seen their day. Translations: Español, العربي..

Latest responses:

Human rights: the global expansion

Stanley Ibe

Making human rights work for the Palestines of the world

Valentina Azarov

The hidden authors and missing histories of human rights

Neil Stammers

Can we decolonise human rights?

Jose-Manuel Barreto

Making women's rights human rights

Jean H. Quataert

Misunderstanding the mass politics of the rights mission

Jack Snyder

Human rights from the bottom up: beyond the ideological export model

Anthony Tirado Chase

Beyond geopolitics: realizing international human rights globally

Edwin Rekosh

It begins and ends with power

Stephen Hopgood

Moving beyond cold war visions and endtime prophecies: claiming all human rights for all (once and for all)

Global Initiative for Economic Social and Cultural Rights

Global Human Rights: For futures unlike the past

Vijay Nagaraj

Against reductionist views of human rights

César Rodríguez-Garavito

Human rights and social justice: the in(di)visible link

Ignacio Saiz and Alicia Ely Yamin

Human rights are also about social justice

Margot Salomon

Misunderstanding our mission

Aryeh Neier

Leaving the struggle for women’s rights out of your account

Marsha A. Freeman

‘Human Rights’ must join activists in social struggle

Hadas Ziv

Can China be a normative power?

Until now, the west has been attempting to tell China how to behave when it comes to human rights. But things are changing. Increasingly, China is engaging in international debate over rights. Does China aim to redefine the norms? Translations: 中国语文, Español, العربي.

Latest responses:

Collective apathy: nationalism and human rights in China

Tianghzao Yang and Jiangnan Zhu

Justice in China: common ground to discuss rights

Kerry Brown

Is China a challenge to the existing international order?

Jiangnan Zhu

Common ground and preserving differences

Xiaoyu Pu

Deeds, not words

David Schlesinger

The end of a temporary advantage

Hugh Shapiro

Time for a new kind of debate on Global Rights

Introducing openGlobalRights: a multilingual project aiming to bring people of the south and north together in a discussion about the future of human rights. Translations: Français, Español, العربية

Latest response:

The “new kind of debate on Global Human Rights” should take place at community pockets of global South

Mukunda Kattel


Mexico can lead the way in protecting migrant workers worldwide

Mexico has deployed few resources to take up the cases of horrific abuse of Central American trans-migrants and of its migrants in the US. It is in a unique position to take up this cause and create a model for the rest of the world. Translations: Español.

Latest response:

México, la permanente encrucijada y su (¿cínica?) política migratoria

Rodolfo Córdova Alcaraz

Encouraging stronger engagement by emerging powers on human rights

Resentment of the west is making emerging powers hold back when they could be using their strengths and experiences to challenge the world’s abusive regimes. Translations: Español, العربية, Português

Latest responses:

New powers won’t play by old rules

David Petrasek

Human rights in the vernacular

The road to greater ownership of human rights by emerging powers is a bumpy one. But it will lead to a more real, and less utopian approach. Translations: Español, 中国语文, العربية.


South Africa’s foreign policy: between idealism and the realpolitik of being an emerging power

More than most, South Africa is expected to be a defender and a promoter of human rights, because of its past. The country has the potential to lead the way in pushing for a more democratic international order. Translations: Español, Français, العربية


Challenges and opportunities in a changing world

Emerging powers are starting to wield some clout on global rights but they need to do much more says Amnesty International’s Secretary General. Translations: Türkçe, Español, 中国语文, العربية


Turkey and the neo-Ottoman approach to human rights

Erdoğan is trying to carve out a role for Turkey as the protector of the rights of Muslims worldwide while punishing dissent within its own borders. Translations: Español , Türkçe, Россия


Latest articles and responses in date order:

集体冷漠:中国的民族主义与人权

根植于民族主义与国家宣传的双重背景,集体利益的观念主导了整个中国的政治心理。而这一情况,几乎扼杀了所有让公众对民主和人权产生兴趣的可能。为了扭转这种冷淡,作者号召新的国际人权范式,从而帮助中国公众重新定位自己的政治观点。English

Collective apathy: nationalism and human rights in China

Rooted in nationalism and fuelled by state propaganda, collective interests dominate China’s political psychology, making it hard for citizens to become interested in democracy or human rights. To overcome this apathy, the authors call for a new international human rights paradigm to help reorient the Chinese public’s views. 

East African rights activists are badly out of touch

The high-minded words of East African activists are often lost on their intended beneficiaries, many of whom are members of the rural poor. A contribution from Mali to the openGlobalRights debate, “Human Rights: Mass or Elite Movement?”

Los activistas y las elites: ¿uniendo los puntos cabos?

La discusión sobre las élites y las bases populares en el movimiento de derechos humanos es importante; pero a veces puede confundir tanto como aclarar. English العربية

النشطاء والنُخبة: الربط بين النقاط؟

النقاش حول النخبة والمنظمات الأهلية لحركة حقوق الإنسان أمر مهم – ولكن يمكن أن يؤدي أحياناً إلى الإرباك بقدر ما يؤدي إلى الإيضاح. English Español

Activists and elites: connecting the dots

The discussion about elites and grassroots in the human rights movement is important – but can sometimes confuse as much as it illuminates. Español العربية

Orwell se sentiría orgulloso: los eslóganes de “derechos humanos” en México

La familiaridad con el término “derechos humanos” puede causar más daños que beneficios cuando la producción gubernamental de eslóganes se adueña de su significado. Dar a las bases populares el poder para interpretar y utilizar los derechos humanos es la clave para que exista una movilización eficaz. English.

Doing Orwell proud: “human rights” slogans in Mexico

Familiarity with the term “human rights” can cause more harm than good when government sloganeering co-opts its meaning.  Empowering the grassroots with the agency to interpret and use human rights is the key to effective mobilization. Español.

¿Puede Brasil ayudar a retrotraer la vigilancia de Estados Unidos?

Brasil se ha convertido en un acérrimo y franco crítico del espionaje estadounidense, y ha solicitado a Google y Facebook que instalen servidores locales. Pero, ¿tendrá resultado? Una colaboración al debate de openGlobalRights sobre poderes esmergentes y derechos humanos. English.

Can Brazil help roll back US surveillance?

 Brazil has become a staunch and vocal critic of US espionage, asking Google and Facebook to install local servers. But will this really work? A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on emerging powers and human rightsEspañol.

Ni las élites ni las masas: la protección de los derechos humanos en el mundo real

La diversidad de los movimientos de derechos humanos desafía el uso de las etiquetas "de élite" o "de masas". Una respuesta al debate que inició la Encuesta de percepción de los derechos humanos. English.

Neither elites nor masses: protecting human rights in the real world

The diversity of human rights movements defies elite/mass labels. A response to the debate sparked by the Human Rights Perception PollEspañol.

Reformar y transformar: una mirada multidireccional de los derechos humanos.

Los investigadores deberían analizar tanto las relaciones verticales entre los líderes de derechos humanos y sus bases como las relaciones horizontales entre el movimiento de derechos humanos y otros actores. Una respuesta a la investigación de Ron, Crow y Golden y una nueva contribución al debate "masas-elites". English

Reforming and transforming: a multi-directional investigation of human rights

Researchers must analyze both vertical relationships between human rights leaders and their base, as well as horizontal relations between the human rights movement and other actors. A response to Ron, Crow and Golden’s survey research, and a new contribution to the “masses or elites” debate. Español.

Time for India to clean up its act

As the world’s largest democracy, India should champion human rights globally. Conscious of its own tawdry record, however, New Delhi’s voice is seldom heard. India should clean up its act and aggressively champion human rights abroad. Scrapping the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act would be a major step forward.

توجيه العمل في مجال حقوق الإنسان من أجل فلسطينيي العالم

 لقد انتشرت بكثرة التعديات الإسرائيلية على حقوق الفلسطينيين ومنها نزع ممتلكاتهم واستغلالهم، ولا تملك المجتمعات المدنية المحلية إلا قدرة محدودة على إحداث تغيير. لمنع هذه الممارسات غير القانونية، يمكن أن تقوم جماعات حقوق الإنسان بحشد دول العالم الثالث، ويجب عليها ذلك، انطلاقاً من التزاماتها المحلية لجعلها ممتثلة للقانون الدولي. Türkçe, EspañolFrançais, English.

Faire appliquer les droits de l'homme pour les Palestines du monde

La pathologie israélienne de la dépossession et de l'exploitation des Palestiniens est profondément ancrée et la capacité des sociétés civiles locales à apporter des changements a été limitée. Pour mettre un terme à ces pratiques illégales, les groupes de défense des droits peuvent, et doivent, mobiliser les États tiers sur la base de leurs obligations nationales pour les mettre en conformité avec le droit international. Türkçe, EspañolEnglish, العربية.

Dünyadaki Filistin ve benzeri mağdur ülkeler için insan haklarının işler hale getirilmesi

İsrail’in hastalıklı bir hal alan yasadışı işgalleri ve Filistinleri sömürmeleri, artık derinden sağlamlaşmıştır ve yerel sivil toplum örgütlerinin kapasitesi, bu sorunda değişime ön ayak olmada yetersiz kalmıştır. İnsan hakları toplulukları; bu yasadışı uygulamaları durdurmak için, devletlerin uluslararası hukuka uymalarını sağlamanın bu grupların yerel çapta sorumluluğu olmasına dayanarak üçüncü taraf devletlerden yardım talep edebilmelidir ve bu yardım gereklidir.  English, EspañolFrançais, العربية.

Cómo hacer que los derechos humanos funcionen para las Palestinas del mundo

La patología israelí de despojo y explotación de los palestinos está profundamente arraigada, y las sociedades civiles locales han tenido una capacidad limitada para generar cambios. Para detener estas prácticas ilegales, las agrupaciones de derechos pueden y deben recurrir a Estados terceros para que, con base a sus obligaciones internas, hagan que cumplan con el derecho internacional. Türkçe, English, Français, العربية.

Hablando con el acento de las élites: el movimiento de derechos humanos y su relación con el público

¿Depende la efectividad del movimiento de derechos humanos de los niveles de confianza y apoyo difuso que inspira entre los ciudadanos? No necesariamente. Las estrategias bien diseñadas a nivel de las elites pueden permitir a las ONGs promover reformas progresistas de manera efectiva. English

Speaking with an elite accent: human rights and the "masses"

Does the human rights movement's effectiveness hinge upon the trust and diffuse support of ordinary citizens? Not necessarily. Well-crafted, elite-level strategies can help NGOs effectively promote progressive reform. Español. 

சர்வதேச மனித உரிமைகளுக்கான இந்தியாவின் குரல், காஷ்மீர் நிலைமை மற்றும் பனிப்போர் மனோநிலையால் மங்கி ஒலிக்கிறது

காஷ்மீர் விவகாரத்தில் இந்தியாவின் நிலைபாடு மற்றும் அதன் பனிப்போர் மனநிலை காரணமாக, சர்வதேச மனித உரிமைப் பிரச்னைகளைக் கையாள்வதில் அந்நாடு சொற்ப ஆர்வம்தான் காட்டுகிறது. இந்தியச் சமூகம் இதில் தலையிட்டாலொழிய இந்த நிலைமை மாறாது. ”சர்வதேச மனித உரிமைகளை வலியுறுத்தும் போராளியாக இந்தியா செயல்படலாம்எனும் கருத்தை முன்வைத்து மீனாட்சி கங்குலி எழுதிய கட்டுரைக்கான எதிர்வினை இது. English

Human rights: the global expansion

Southern populations and activists don’t need leadership from northern human rights organizations. Instead, northern groups should support the most deprived southern populations in their own efforts to hold their leadership accountable. 

India's global human rights advocacy: hamstrung by Kashmir and Cold War syndrome

India continues to view human rights through the narrow prism of a nonexistent Cold War. This won’t change until Indian civil society decides to get involved. A response to Meenakshi Ganguly’s essay on India’s potential role as a global human rights promoter. தமிழ்

Making human rights work for the Palestines of the world

The Israeli pathology of dispossession and exploitation of Palestinians is deeply entrenched, and local civil societies have had limited capacity to effect change. To halt these unlawful practices, rights groups can and should enlist third states based on their domestic obligations to bring them into compliance with international law. Türkçe, Español, Français, العربية.

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