Duryea Publishes Chapter in the Routledge History of Human Rights

Professor Catherine Duryea‘s book chapter, “The Universality of Human Rights: Early NGO Practices in the Arab World,” was published last week in the Routledge History of Human Rights.

Here is the abstract:

Drawing on interviews as well as published material and organizational archives, this essay explores the practices of several Arab human rights NGOs in Palestine, Morocco, Kuwait, and Egypt from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.  catherineAll of the organizations engaged in a range of activities that are familiar to any human rights NGO, but they used international law and institutions in fundamentally different ways to pursue goals specific to their political context.  These divergences reflected domestic and regional political constraints as well as the preferences and beliefs of early activists. The organizations demonstrate how human rights became relevant throughout the Arab world and provide new insights into debates over the universality of human rights. Their place in Muslim-majority states positioned them as critical voices in the debate over the compatibility of religion and human rights. Their members’ calls for adherence to international law in countries with complex legacies of colonial interference speak to whether human rights are uniquely Western. And their continued existence in countries with egregious violations highlight the role of human rights when international law is not respected.


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