• Description

This research report is a short section from my dissertation investigating Arab human rights NGOs from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The Ford Foundation provided financial support to several organizations in the region. At the RAC, I was primarily interested in the Palestinian organization Al Haq, located in the West Bank, though I was also able to gather material about NGOs in Gaza, Tunisia, and Cairo. My goal was to understand how these organizations used international law in their advocacy. The chapter from which this report is drawn details how the work of Arab NGOs contributes to the debates over whether human rights law is universal. The chapter argues that human rights practice is an important piece of this discussion. It details how Arab NGOs created, adapted, and implemented what were becoming hallmarks of human rights advocacy: factfinding and documentation, education, litigation, and international advocacy. The diversity of practices among these organizations highlights that universality does not require homogeneity. The human rights "tent" extends far enough to include both professional, centralized organizations like Al Haq and more sprawling, radical organizations like those discussed elsewhere in the dissertation.