Struggles From Below: Literature Review on Human Rights Struggles by Domestic Actors


What do we know about the role of domestic civic actors in advocating for human rights outcomes? We know that they play a crucial role. Although transnational and governmental actors also have played an important part in major human rights improvements over the last several decades, domestic advocates have augmented their work. Indeed, the very effectiveness of international efforts—such as the signing and ratification of human rights treaties—depends on domestic actors bringing pressure to bear at the same time. Without such pressure, the effects of international actors are severely limited. The importance of domestic civic actors applies to all three pillars of human rights protection: environment, response, and remedy. The strength of civil society is a crucial factor for the enabling environment for human rights, not just in translating universal rights into something that makes sense in the local context, but in enabling advocacy. For response and remedy, the research consistently shows that domestic activism is critical to mitigating the immediate impact of human rights violations, to providing redress, and to deterring future rights violations.

DRG Center Research and Innovation Grants Working Papers Series
Jonathan Pinckney
Jonathan Pinckney
Assistant Professor

My research interests include civil resistance, democratization, and peacebuilding.