Civil Society, Conflicts and the Politicization of Human Rights

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This publicaton explores violence, conflict and peace. It focuses on the non-governmental component in ethno-political conflicts. Civil society actors, or conflict society organizations (CoSOs), are increasingly central in view of the complexity of contemporary ethno-political conflicts CoSOs are key players in ethno-political conflicts. Nevertheless, the precise relationships underpinning the human rights-civil society-conflict nexus have not been fully examined. This volume analyzes the impact of civil society on ethno-political conflicts through their human rights-related activities, and identifies the means to strengthen the complementarity between civil society and international governmental actors in promoting peace. These aims are addressed in case studies on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Turkey's Kurdish question, and Israel-Palestine.



Human rights and the (de)securitization of conflict

Human rights have become an ever more important aspect of policies designed to address so-called ethno-political conflicts: their violation is seen as an indicator for conflict intensification, and their institutionalization has become a widespread precondition for development aid to ensure its effective distribution within a peaceful society. The promotion of liberal democracy, including human rights, to spread peace has legitimized a series of interventions – some military – by international actors. These efforts assume a close link between the institutionalization of human rights and what we will call positive conflict transformation as well as peacebuilding, especially if framed within the context of human security (Dunne and Wheeler, 2004; Mertus and Helsing, 2006). However, they often do not make this link clear, nor do they carefully analyse the conditions under which the advocacy of human rights is effective or the variety of forms it can take (for an exception see Parlevliet, 2009).


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