Contesting Human Rights
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Contesting Human Rights

Norms, Institutions and Practice

Edited by Alison Brysk and Michael Stohl

Illustrated with case studies from across the globe, Contesting Human Rights provides an innovative approach to human rights, and examines the barriers and changing pathways to the full realisation of these rights. Presenting a thorough proposal for the reframing of human rights, the volume suggests that new opportunities at, and below, the state level, and creative pathways of global governance can help reconstruct human rights in the face of modern challenges.
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Chapter 10: What went wrong: backlash and contradictions in Central and Eastern Europe

Patrice C. McMahon

Abstract

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have a long and well-established history of involvement in the human rights regime. Their involvement, however, has not been easy or straightforward. In fact, one of the most pervasive challenges in global politics today is the growing criticism of NGOs advocating for human rights and human dignity. This chapter examines different manifestations of NGO backlash, and the growing resistance to these pathways of influence and drivers of change. With an emphasis on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, I suggest that scholars and policymakers need to do a better job focusing on why NGOs and groups in civil society gain traction and popular support in certain countries and sectors but not others. Although these transnational actors are crucial to the advancement of human rights, the pathways to circulate ideas and implement policies are often blocked, underdeveloped or ineffective.

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