Human Rights NGOS in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions

Human Rights NGOS in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions



Human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are by definition not part of the state. Rather, they are an element of civil society, the strands of the fabric of organized life in countries, and crucial to the prospect of political democracy. Civil society is a very recent phenomenon in East African nations, where authoritarian regimes have prevailed and human rights watchdogs have had a critical role to play. While the state remains one of the major challenges to human rights efforts in the countries of the region, other problems that are internal to the human rights movement are also of a serious nature, and they are many: What are the social bases of the human rights enterprise in transitional societies? What mandate can human rights NGOs claim, and in whose name do they operate?

Human Rights NGOs in East Africa critically explores the anatomy of the human rights movement in the East African region, examining its origins, challenges, and emergent themes in the context of political transitions. In particular, the book seeks to understand the political and normative challenges that face this young but vibrant civil society in the vortex of globalization. The book brings together the most celebrated human rights thinkers in East Africa, enriched by contributions from their colleagues in South Africa and the United States.

To date, very little has been written about the struggles and accomplishments of civil society in the nations of East Africa. This book will fill that gap and prove to be an invaluable tool for understanding and teaching about human rights in this complex and vital part of the world.

Publication Date



University of Pennsylvania Press






Human Rights Law | International Law | Law | Law and Society


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Human Rights NGOS in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions