I’m in the process of drafting a teaching guide for lecturers who address human rights advocacy, citizens’ movements and foreign policy. The main part of the guide presents discussion questions I think Fighting for Darfur raises. Some are policy focused. Some are advocacy focused. Many intersect.
Over the coming month I’m going to post a draft question set every day or two and see where the discussion leads – a sort of test run of what direction this might go in a classroom or reading group. The questions are pretty dense so feel free just to pick out one segment of it to chew over.
To respond to a question just use the “speak your mind” tab. Note, your email will NOT show up publicly. I’m keen to get feedback from a range of people. On the one hand, people who are or have been involved in Darfur and Sudan more broadly: If you are working in or on Sudan, or if your organization is, and you are worried about safety, feel free to use a pseudonym (you will still have to put an email address in but no one other than me will ever see it). On the other hand, people I think the Darfur advocacy experience might have relevance for: What are the discussions happening in citizens movements on climate change, human trafficking . . . ?
Okay, enough preamble, here’s the first question:
In “The Precarious Triumph of Human Rights”[NYT, 1999] David Rieff argued that human rights advocates needed to move concern about human rights from elite corridors and into the churches and shopping malls of America. Fighting for Darfur is the story of what happened when this was done. How would you evaluate the costs and benefits of the mass movement approach, compared to the traditional elite (say Human Rights watch) approach to human rights advocacy? To sustain a mass movement of volunteers, is it inevitable that advocacy leaders will push for policies that are visible and can be “sold back” to constituents as evidence of their influence? Can the risks that come with mass movement advocacy be mitigated, and if so, how?