Striding Toward Justice: Studying Successful Human Rights Campaigns in Palestine, Iran and Myanmar
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In this paper I explore three case studies of successful prominent human rights campaigns in countries with repressive governments. Following Sikkink (2017), I evaluate success in human rights as concrete, incremental change towards a higher objective of justice. Literature on the aspects of impactful human rights campaigns addresses different levels of advocacy as well as different concrete strategies. Within the strategy of multiple points ofleverage, I demonstrate that successful campaigns: engage national and international media; participate in domestic legal and electoral systems; bring the campaign into public life; and employ domestic civil society. After elucidating this argument, I compare three human rights campaigns in three different states. Each campaign took place in a different repressive dictatorship under conditions that would make success unlikely; yet in each case, the campaign was successful. My first case study addresses the campaign for Empowerment of Palestinian Women Leaders run in Palestine by MIFT AH (The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy), an organization begun by Hanan Ashrawi to promote principles of democracy and good governance in Palestine. Next, I analyze the Iranian One Million Signatures Campaign for women's rights in Iran, which included contribution from the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi among other women leaders. The One Million Signatures Campaign gained significant support from women all over Iran, raising awareness for the women's movement in that country and support for the revision of harmful laws to women and girls. Finally, I investigate Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign for democracy in Myanmar from 1988 to 1990, which gained international attention by unifying the country through the ideals of democracy, national unity, and peace. I conclude the paper by revisiting my argument in the context of these three case studies, synthesizing their similarities to identify effective c~mbinations of strategies and conditions of successful human rights campaigns.