An examination of human rights advocacy
The University of Dayton is pleased to host an upcoming academic conference: The Social Practice of Human Rights: Charting the Frontiers of Research and Advocacy, to take place at UD's River Campus in Dayton, OH, October 3-5, 2013. This conference is envisioned as an opportunity to foster scholar-practitioner collaboration, interdisciplinary dialogue, and cultivate critical introspection of human rights advocacy.
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Call for Papers
The deadline for paper submissions has expired.
Since the passage of the Universal Declaration sixty-five years ago, the idea of human rights has undergone a dramatic evolution: from rhetorical flourish to institutional embrace, from moral ascendancy to mainstream status. The human rights community—its scholars, practitioners, advocates, and organizations—constitutes an integral component of international society and regards itself as the standard bearer of normative behavior. Development and humanitarian organizations converge around a rights-based approach to their work. Multinational corporations are increasingly sensitive to the human rights impacts of their operations, and philanthropic foundations shape human rights initiatives around the globe. Broad consensus preordains human rights actors as virtuous and their calling honorable, but cultivates a certainty about mission that can inhibit introspection, and prioritizes, rather than challenges, prevailing assumptions. Seeking a more profound impact, the human rights community is positioned to transcend its good intentions, account for its actions, and navigate the demands of implementing universal values in a complex world. Academic research plays a key role in this respect.
It has now been fifteen years since the research program in Transnational Advocacy Networks began to shape a generation of scholars and scholarship. After two decades of debates over definitions, origins, and foundations, this area of study focuses on the pragmatic side of human rights and proposes models and categories to capture changing dynamics in the sphere of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As the literature in this area grows richer and more robust, the academy is at an auspicious moment to convene around this theme and examine the social practice of human rights: to expose human rights to a degree of self-reflection appropriate to its resources, reach, and prominence. Previously, critical analysis directed at human rights originated among antagonists; this new direction in research provides space for constructive critique to come from within the community. The “social practice of human rights” focuses attention on advocacy and NGOs by exploring the expressions of human rights in the context of those actors tasked with translating abstract moral values into concrete matter.
Submissions pertaining to this topic may address questions that include, but are not limited to:
- What issues constitute human rights issues? Who decides and on what basis?
- What criteria should be applied to validate new rights claims? Is “human rights” always the best means of framing broad objectives of social justice?
- How has the emergence of new actors redefined human rights engagement?
- What determines best practices in advocacy? What calculations are involved in selecting targets and venues? How do organizational structure and resources impact strategy?
- How can advocates avoid unintended consequences? What standards of accountability apply to human rights actors?
- How do NGOs address systemic causes of violations and confront future challenges?
- What is the relationship between human rights, humanitarianism, development, and environmentalism?
- Can activists utilize social media to foster communities of solidarity? What effects do atrocity photographs in visual culture have on representations of distant suffering?
- What is the place of art, music, and language in affecting and transmitting human rights ideas? How do articulations of cultural rights take shape?
- What ethical demands and principles of conduct govern human rights organizations?
- Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and formerly of Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice
- Alex de Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at the Fletcher School, Tufts University
- Jo Becker, Director of Advocacy for Children's Rights, Human Rights Watch
- Dr. Louis Bickford, Program Officer, Ford Foundation
- Dr. Alison Brysk, Mellichamp Professor of Global Governance, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Jason Cone, Communications Director, Doctors Without Borders – USA
- Larry Cox, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
- Dr. Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund
- Sam Gregory, Program Director, WITNESS
- Ambassador Tony Hall, Executive Director, Alliance to End Hunger
- Leora Kahn, Executive Director, Proof – Media for Social Justice
- Bill O’Keefe, VP for Government Relations and Advocacy, Catholic Relief Services
- Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director, Center for Economic and Social Rights
Conference Program of Events
- Thursday, October 3
Evening Program, Boll Theater, UD Campus:
Welcome reception and concert by the Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, performing a selection of works inspired by challenges to human rights
- Friday, October 4
Day of research panels featuring new, critical work in human rights studies
Remarks from UD President Dan Curran
Dinner event, featuring keynote address from Juan Mendez
- Saturday, October 5
Day of plenary dialogues featuring leaders from NGOs, foundations, and academia (Speakers)
Keynote address from Alex de Waal
Art gallery reception, "The One and the Many: Art and Human Rights"
Registration & Lodging
We are offering three registration packages. Each includes meals and conference materials:
- Two-day registration
- Two-day registration at a subsidized rate for emerging scholars/practitioners, and international attendees
- One-day registration for Saturday events only
Access online registration from the "Register" link at right.
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The following area hotels are currently available and open for registration. The quantity of special event room rates shown below are limited.
- Crowne Plaza: Located in downtown Dayton, in walking distance to shopping and nightlife.
$109 per night
Group code: HUM
- Dayton Marriott: A full service hotel, closest hotel to the conference space.
$109 per night
Group name: Human Rights Conference
- Courtyard Marriott of Dayton: Offers the lowest rates and free wi-fi.
$92 per night
Group name: University of Dayton Political Science
The Social Practice of Human Rights: Charting the Frontiers of Research and Advocacy will be held October 3-5, 2013, at the University of Dayton’s River Campus, located at 1700 South Patterson Blvd. in Dayton. This location is the former site of the NCR Corporate World Headquarters.
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