How Human Rights Advocates Influence Policy at the United Nations

  • Janet Elise Johnson
  • Xenia Marie Hestermann


This article examines strategies used by human rights advocates to lobby for policy at intergovernmental organizations. We suggest that the literatures’ central questions are about how best to organize, connect, and communicate, which are usually seen through theory on transnational advocacy networks and framing. We add that these questions should be seen as gendered, given the continued male dominance within diplomatic corps. With unusual access to their strategy, we conduct a case study of one advocate’s successful campaign to get the United Nations to adopt a country-specific resolution. Like others, we found this campaigning relies upon the use of networks to overcome formal obstacles to access, human rights language to frame the problem, analysis of tally sheets of member states’ voting, and in-person lobbying. We also point out strategies key to their success that are not usually noticed by scholars, such as the gendered dynamics that get advocates in the door.


Human rights United Nations Framing NGO Informal Gender 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political ScienceBrooklyn College, City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA

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