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  1. 1
    Peer Reviewed

    Response to Leonard S. Rubenstein.

    Roth K

    Human Rights Quarterly. 2004; 26:873-878.

    Leonard S. Rubenstein offers a thoughtful response to my article on how international monitoring and advocacy organizations that use a methodology of public shaming can best advance economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights. His article makes three basic points. First, he notes that such organizations can make useful contributions beyond exposing government misconduct and subjecting it to public opprobrium. Namely, he suggests that they can provide technical assistance to governments on implementing ESC rights and help with capacity building for national or local NGOs that seek such rights. Second, he contends that such international organizations need not be as concerned with advocating tradeoffs among competing ESC rights because fears of limited resources— a “zero-sum game”—are overblown. Third, he disagrees with my perceived preference for condemning “arbitrary” government conduct to the exclusion of violations of particular ESC rights. On the first point, I largely agree with him. On the second, I regretfully suspect he has an overly sanguine view of the problem. And on the third, I fear he has misunderstood me. (excerpt)
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  2. 2

    [Toward a new international penal law: some general reflections at the end of the century] Vers un nouveau droit international pénal: quelques réflexions générales à la fin du siècle.

    Aznar Gomez MJ

    In: La protection des droits de l'Homme entre la législation interne et le droit international. Actes du colloque organisé par le Centre de Recherches sur la Coopération Internationale pour le Développement de la Faculté de Droit de Marrakech avec le concours de la Fondation Hanns-Seidel, les 21 et 22 janvier 2000. Rabat, Morocco, Revue Marocaine d'Administration Locale et de Developpement, 2001. 33-56. (Thèmes Actuels No. 26)

    In classic international law, since the individual is separated from the international sphere by the legal fiction of the State, while international law at the dawn of the twenty-first century no longer governs only co-existence among States or the pursuit of their common goals, but also collective interests proper to the international community as a whole, the protection of human rights today is no longer part of the domain reserved to States. At the present time, we find that the individual is the subject of rights and the State is the subject of new duty, namely the respect of human rights. It is possible to identify, through the practice of diplomacy and international jurisprudence, a few general rules, divided into those relating to substance and those relating to procedure. Among the rules relating to substance, it is possible to identify the principles of sovereignty and cooperation, the elementary rules of humaneness and the rule of individual criminal liability. In the area of international sanction mechanisms in international law, the first image we see is that of the courts of Nuremberg and Tokyo. The classic approach to the sanctioning of individuals has really changed only since the end of the 1980's. These sanctions had long been in the hands of the State. In all cases, at least on the normative level, they left in their hands the obligation to obey and to enforce international criminal law, which at the present time is conveyed, among other ways, through the action of international tribunals, bilateral cooperation through international criminal judiciary assistance and multilateral cooperation. Several humanitarian tragedies, such as those in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Rwanda, have called into question the effectiveness of these new enforcement and sanction procedures; however the participation of public opinion and non-governmental organizations (NGO's), the political and judicial action of the United Nations have reinforced it.
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  3. 3

    Tortured tradition. A movement in Africa seeks to end the age-old -- and to some, barbaric -- practice of female circumcision.

    Goodsmith L

    BALTIMORE SUN. 2000 Mar 26; [4] p..

    The WHO estimates that more than 130 million women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Many local, regional, and international organizations have long been active in trying to end FGM through public education efforts. Change has been slow and the problem has sometimes seemed unyielding. Recently, however, there have been some striking breakthroughs, sparked by average individuals taking a stand against this centuries-old custom. The most extraordinary example of change has taken place in the village of Malicounda in Senegal, when the village publicly renounced the practice of FGM. The initiative born in Malicounda has reached many of Senegal's diverse ethnic groups as well as some of the country's more conservative regions. One public declaration has followed another, marked by mass gatherings. The largest event took place in Bagadadji, as 105 villages joined in renouncing FGM. Given recent events in Senegal, Molly Melching, director of the nongovernmental organization Tostan, conjectures that FGM may well disappear there within the next few years. According to Melching, “People are accepting the idea of ending FGM ... “This was unimaginable before the women of Malicounda stood up.”
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  4. 4
    Peer Reviewed

    Human rights and religious backlash: the experience of a Bangladeshi NGO.

    Rafi M; Chowdhury AM

    Development in Practice. 2000 Feb; 10(1):19-30.

    As part of a human rights education campaign, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee fixed 700,000 posters throughout Bangladesh. This met with opposition from the religious organizations. This paper investigates the nature and cause of the backlash and sets out strategies for how development organizations can achieve their objectives in the face of opposition. The opposition was found to be in response to interpretations of the posters based on the Holy Koran and Islamic practices, and a perceived intrusion into the professional territory of religious organizations, which affected the socioeconomic interests of these organizations' representatives. It was therefore concluded that development organizations should pre-empt such opposition by spelling out their objectives to potential critics, and formulating programs that do not provide scope for opponents to undermine their development activities. (author's)
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  5. 5

    [Experience of the Centre de Djoliba in the campaign] Experience du Centre de Djoliba en matiere de lutte.

    Kone VM

    In: Seminaire Sous-Regional sur l'Excision. Theme: Echanges Sous-Regionaux et Strategies Combinees, Ziguinchor du 29 au 31 Janvier 1996. Rapport final. Ziguinchor, Senegal, Enda-ACAS, 1996 Feb. 60-4.

    The promotion of women at the Djoliba Center was first established in 1981 in communes V and VI of Bamako district. In 1983, the center responded to a request to help eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The different phases of the struggle since that year, the intervention strategy, results obtained, difficulties encountered, and perspectives on the future are discussed. Neither the general public nor most of Mali s medical body is ready to directly consider the subject of FGM. On the other hand, information and education sessions on the topic have encouraged populations, popular beliefs, and political and health leaders to not treat FGM as a taboo topic. The use of simple materials adapted to raise awareness is recommended. Attitudes are changing on FGM and people must now decide whether it makes sense to perpetuate a custom that so affects the lives of the people who undergo it. In order to eradicate FGM, information and awareness campaigns must be strengthened. The Djoliba Center is increasingly solicited by organizations and international and national organizations for training and education assistance in a number of areas.
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  6. 6

    Strength in numbers.

    Lakkis S

    LINKS. 1999 Mar; 3-4.

    A case study showing the attitudes and actions reinforcing discrimination against women's rights in Lebanon is presented. The study illustrates the way in which the public s views and the interests of families and local dignitaries can manipulate opinions. Organizations aimed at protecting women's rights have found strength in working together. The Lebanese League, an organization comprised of 17 women's and human rights associations, has established a center and a telephone hotline to encourage abused women to disclose and discuss their situation. The center provides support in the form of legal, psychological and medical assistance. Another organization working with the Lebanese League towards the same vision is the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union. Efforts to lobby around a Lebanese legislation discriminating against women so far had no success, but all organizations involved are aware of the need to work through a range of interventions, and to take a long-term view, before they can count on any success.
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  7. 7

    Mexican press tour helps raise public awareness.

    JOICFP NEWS. 1999 Jan; (295):3.

    In an effort to increase public awareness in Japan of global population and reproductive health issues, 5 Japanese journalists from Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), Kyodo News, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, and FM Hokkaido traveled with a JOICFP team in Mexico for 12 days in October 1988. It is hoped that, following their experience in Mexico, the journalists will help to create favorable public opinion in Japan toward development assistance in population. The UNFPA Mexico office, the Japanese embassy, JICA, central and local ministries of health, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Mexico City and rural areas were visited during the tour. Specific sites and programs visited include a NGO in Catemaco, Veracruz state, a junior high school sexuality education program funded by the Packard Foundation, a community guest house for child deliveries in Puebla State, and a MEXFAM clinic funded by the owner of a towel factory. As a result of the study tour, an 8-minute program was aired on NHK, featuring an interview with the director of MEXFAM. The journalists learned from the tour.
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  8. 8

    Family planning in Russia in 1993-94: the role of NGOs in demonopolising population policy.

    Popov AA

    PLANNED PARENTHOOD IN EUROPE. 1995 Aug; 24(2):26-30.

    While official figures show a steady decline in the number of induced abortions performed annually in Russia, changes in regulations on the provision of abortion services and in the data collection system are likely responsible for the declining figures. For example, abortions performed in commercial health centers and in many state-supported medical units are not reported. Also there are no reliable figures on contraceptive usage in Russia or on other facets of family planning, and indeed Russian health care statistics in general are lacking. Thus, the 30% reduction in abortions reported from 1989 to 1993 was not accompanied by a similar increase in the use of modern contraceptives. Also, 26% of maternal mortality still results from induced abortions. However, during 1993-94, a significant amount of social attention was paid to the issue of family planning in Russia, and induced abortion was identified as a social priority and a health care problem. Also, many public groups are beginning to become involved in the formulation of a population policy in Russia. This has resulted in development of a grassroots approach instead of a hierarchical approach to FP. The most important new players in FP and population policy development are the Russian Orthodox Church with its anti-abortion lobby, commercial health care providers, new nongovernmental organizations, Western pharmaceutical companies, and international foundations and agencies. Several legislative initiatives have led to an increase in the number of officially registered sterilizations and to a proposal to remove abortion from the list of medical services covered by the state insurance program. The platform of some political parties would prohibit abortion. While the provision of FP and the problems associated with abortion have received priority attention, the concept of a human rights approach to FP is not developed in Russia. Russia completed its first demographic transition using the archaic technology of abortion and traditional contraception. A second transition will occur as the use of modern contraception instead of abortion increases.
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