Call for Papers

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Subject: Call for Papers
From: Roger Duthie (
Date: Wed Apr 05 2000 - 11:52:54 EDT




Human Rights Dialogue invites community-based advocates for women's causes from around the world to contribute to its Summer 2000 issue that will examine what human rights language and concepts can achieve for women and girls at the local level.

Although women's rights are increasingly gaining prominence on the international stage, it is broadly acknowledged that many women are not very aware of "human rights." For those women who have come into contact with human rights language and concepts, they may be indifferent or hostile to such notions for a number of reasons: human rights are seen as external to their culture or religion, they are preoccupied with concerns of daily survival, or human rights seems to have nothing to offer them.

Building awareness and legitimacy for human rights can help protect women from social injustice and can even be a matter of life and death for them and their children. However, rights that affect the private sphere, such as women's rights, are difficult to promote especially when they challenge existing cultural and socio-economic values. Traditionally, the international community in implementing human rights have privileged a man's civil and political rights, protecting his rights to privacy in his personal and family life. Women are therefore particularly vulnerable to human rights abuse in issues of sexuality, marriage, reproduction, inheritance, and power over children. Moreover, discrimination on the basis of sex is frequently justified as being in accordance with many of the cultures and religions practiced in the world today.

Many activists seek to place women's issues within the human rights framework in order to bring to light such "hidden" social injustice, counter local norms that encourage women's human rights violations, and effectively advocate for women at the national and international level. However, implementing such rights at the local level is often another matter. In order to change underlying social norms and to raise awareness of women's rights, it is often argued that more context-specific approaches to human rights implementation are needed. Human rights standards or principles need to be translated into particular social and cultural contexts in order to be locally accepted and legitimate.

But how does this occur in practice? How does one mediate between universal rights and conflicting cultural norms and practices? In particular, what is the role of human rights terms and concepts in this task? Can they actually change cultural norms and practices that currently limit social justice for women? Human rights language and concepts can be strategically useful to activists addressing women's causes in order to bestow legitimacy on gender issues at the local level, inspire, link to an international and larger movement, and attract a broad cross-section of people to the struggle. But they may also limit women's causes because they have too much "baggage" and too much conflict with local norms.

To shed light on these issues, Human Rights Dialogue seeks community-based women's advocates to write about their work in implementing women's human rights for its Summer 2000 issue. Contributors should use one in-depth example or several examples to demonstrate how to (or how not to) successfully mediate between universal rights and conflicting cultural principles in order to advance women's causes. The example(s) can address any aspect of women's human rights - including economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights - from anywhere in the world. The example(s) should also address the following five questions, although not in any particular order:

1. When, why, how, and among whom do you use specific human rights language and concepts to help raise awareness, mobilize, and generally further women's causes? (This should include an orientation to the level of existing awareness of human rights among the people with whom you work).

2. Can human rights language and concepts change cultural norms and practices that are limiting social justice for women? If so, how? If not, why not?

3. When or if human rights language and concepts are avoided, why? What is used instead to raise awareness and further causes to improve the lives of women?

4. From the perspectives of the women with whom you work, what do human rights language and concepts achieve for them?

5. Is human rights an accessible tool that women can use to improve their lives? Why, or why not? If not, how can human rights terms and concepts be more accessible?

Optional, follow up questions:

Drawing upon your example(s), is there anything that in your opinion is currently missing from the Beijing +5 discussions, or deserves more attention?

Does your organization address women's rights issues and human rights more broadly? In your experience, is the legitimacy of human rights at large strengthened or weakened by placing women's causes in human rights terms?

Human Rights Dialogue solicits essays written in an engaging and informal style by grassroots and community-based actors, as well as those directly impacted by human rights violations. Advocates are also strongly encouraged to use interviews with their constituents in their essays. Academic articles with footnotes are not desirable. Please see our Spring 2000 issue, "Litigating Human Rights: Promise v Perils" for examples of essays.

An honorarium of US $ 100 will be awarded to authors whose work is selected for publication. Selected Submissions should be no more than 1300 words, written in English, and received no later than April 20, 2000. Authors are encouraged to contact us with a brief summary of their planned essay by April 7th.

Selected authors should be prepared to respond to edits and comments on their submissions. Publication in Dialogue is competitive. The Editors will chose essays for publication that best respond to the above questions and specifications.

Please email or fax your article no later than April 20, 2000 to:

Catherine Moller
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
170 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10021 USA
Fax: (212) 752-2432

In addition to articles from activists around the world, the Summer 2000 Human Rights Dialogue will also include the voices and experiences of leading academics and policy-makers.

About the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs and the Human Rights Initiative
The Carnegie Council, based in New York City, is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization dedicated to research and education at the intersection of ethics and international affairs. The goal of the Carnegie Council's Human Rights Initiative is to examine the barriers that prevent a broad cross-section of people from embracing and benefiting from human rights, and ways to overcome such barriers. We seek to explore how human rights can better achieve social justice for those seeking it and those who need it.

Human Rights Dialogue was introduced in 1993 in conjunction with the Carnegie Council's Human Rights Initiative. A quarterly publication, Dialogue grapples with fundamental human rights dilemmas by featuring the voices of local actors and those who are directly impacted by human rights violations throughout the world. True to its name, Dialogue is a forum for academics, policy makers, practitioners, and others concerned with human rights. Within its pages, they exchange experiences and innovative approaches that address on-going debates. Dialogue's 5000 readers include influential actors and organizations throughout the world. Thousands more access the publication through our website.

Please contact us or consult our website,, for more information. To view information on the Human Rights Initiative, please click on "Programs" then "Studies," then scroll down.

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