The purpose of this article is to investigate in which ways multi-level actor cooperation advances national and local implementation processes of human rights norms in weak-state contexts. Examining the cases of women’s rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and children’s rights in Bangladesh, we comparatively point to some advantages and disadvantages cooperative relations between international organisations, national governments and local NGOs can entail. Whereas these multi-level actor constellations (MACs) usually initiate norm implementation processes reliably and compensate governmental deficits, they are not always sustainable in the long run. If international organisations withdraw support from temporary missions or policy projects, local NGOs are not able to perpetuate implementation activities if state capacities have not been strengthened by MACs. Our aim is to highlight functions of local agency within multi-level cooperation and to critically raise sustainability issues in human rights implementation to supplement norm research in International Relations.
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For a comprehensive list see Jenichen (2012: 78).
We prefer calling this subtype of transnational advocacy networks ‘multi-level’ and ‘coalition’ as, first, domestic activists do not have to cross borders to ask for international support and cooperate with international allies. The latter are already based in the country as IOs and INGOs establish peace operations and domestic offices, increasingly staffed by local professionals. Second, members closely coordinate their strategies within the scope of advocacy campaigns and, therefore, constitute a coalition rather than a loose network (Khagram et al. 2002: 7–8).
The reconstruction of the process described in this section is based primarily on semi-structured interviews with (former) women’s rights activists and representatives from IOs and governmental institutions in BiH conducted by one of the authors in April, May and November 2006.
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Jenichen, A., Schapper, A. Between global ambitions and local change: how multi-level cooperation advances norm implementation in weak states. J Int Relat Dev 20, 1–28 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/jird.2014.29
- human rights
- weak states