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Advocacy in Conflict

Advocacy in Conflict

Alex de Waal


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Conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America have become a common focus of advocacy by Western celebrities and NGOs. This provocative volume delves into the realities of these efforts, which have often involved compromising on integrity in pursuit of profile and influence. Examining the methods used by Western advocates, how they relate to campaigns in the countries concerned, and their impact, expert authors evaluate the successes and failures of past advocacy campaigns and offer constructive criticism of current efforts. Taking in a range of high-profile case studies, including campaigns for democracy in Burma and Latin America, for the rights of Palestinians in Gaza, and opposing the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, the authors challenge the assumptions set forth by advocacy organizations.
Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. He is considered one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, and his scholarship and practice have also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peace-building. He was a member of the African Union mediation team for Darfur (2005-06) and senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (2009-11). He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 ‘brave thinkers’ in 2009.

'Anyone who wants to understand the complex, ambiguous and often neglected nature of international activism must read this informative and readable book. Through a series of fascinating case studies the book illustrates the upsides and downsides of international engagement with local campaigns in some of the most difficult places in the world.'
Professor Mary Kaldor, London School of Economics and Political Science

'This timely and sobering volume asks the critical question: What is the price of success? In a series of compelling cases taken from the recent past, we see how Western activists are often co-opted, or forced to compromise on their founding goals, taking them further and further away from what might truly help those who are supposed to benefit from their activism.'
Michael Barnett, author of The Empire of Humanity

‘Alex de Waal and his students have assembled a fascinating group of thinkers and doers to dissect transnational advocacy in the twenty-first century.’
Robert Muggah, author of No Refuge and Relocation Failures in Sri Lanka

'Based on a series of insightful case studies, Advocacy in Conflict brilliantly explores the contradictory pressures on transnational advocacy. Essential reading for any thoughtful conflict advocate.'
Duncan Green, senior strategic adviser, Oxfam GB

'These eye-opening studies tell us so much about the way the western lens distorts the world's realities. George Clooney should read it from cover to cover.'
Peter Gill, author of Famine and Foreigners

'This highly informative book is full of eye-opening case studies and is a must-read for all activists that genuinely care about the political empowerment of communities affected by conflict.'
Peace News

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front cover
About the Editor i
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Preface vii
1: Introduction: Transnational Advocacy in Contention 1
‘Nothing for Us Without Us’ 1
Key Questions 4
Outline of the Book 7
References 17
2: Genealogies of Transnational Activism 18
Introduction 18
The Evolution of Transnational Advocacy 22
A Post-Humanitarianism? 40
Notes 42
References 42
3: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy: A Critical Appraisal 45
Introduction 45
Democratic Resistance in Burma 48
The ‘Free Burma’ Movement 51
Economic Boycotts and Sanctions 54
A Tide in the Affairs of Men 57
A New Paradigm of Engagement and Transition to Civilian Government 60
Conclusion: Consequences of a Singular Narrative 63
References 66
4: The Janus Face of International Activism and Guatemala’s Indigenous Peoples 68
Introduction 68
Theoretical Considerations 71
Guatemala Case Study 78
Concluding Remarks: Indigenous Activism in Post-Conflict Guatemala – A Postscript? 88
References 92
5: Advocacy Delegitimized: The Convoluted Case of Gaza 95
Irony – Advocacy for Israel in the West 96
Straightforwardness – Advocacy for Gaza in the West 99
Complexity – Advocacy for Gaza in Israel 104
Delegitimization – Advocacy for Gaza in Israel, Summer 2014 108
Conclusion 111
Notes 113
6: Conflict Minerals in Congo: The Consequences of Oversimplification 115
Background 116
Creating a Narrative 119
The Legislative Effort 121
Rule-Making at the SEC 124
A Series of Unintended Consequences 127
The Clash of Evidence and Narrative 130
Misperceptions and Their Consequences 135
Reclaiming Conflict Minerals Advocacy 137
Notes 138
References 139
7: ‘Make Him Famous’: The Single Conflict Narrative of Kony and Kony2012 142
Introduction 142
War and Peace in Northern Uganda 145
The Single (International) Conflict Narrative 148
Faith in Force 151
Silenced Narrative 153
The Fear Factor 155
Conclusion 158
Notes 159
References 160
8: Getting Away with Mass Murder: The SPLA and Its American Lobbies 164
Introduction: Unscripted Atrocities 164
Being on the ‘Right Side’ 166
Formative Days: The 1980s 169
Towards a Rebel–NGO Coalition 171
Advocacy, Peace and Democracy 173
Independence 176
The Border War 177
The New Crisis in the South 180
Conclusions 182
Notes 184
References 184
9: From Whose Perspective Anyway? The Quest for African Disability Rights Activism 187
Introduction 187
Reflecting on Disability Rights, Definitions and Development Issues in Africa 190
Activism, Emancipation and Empowerment 195
Activism and Its Challenges in Africa 197
Disability Is Becoming Big Business: Elites as ‘Gatekeepers of Charity’ 198
Non-Consultation, Non-Involvement and Tokenism 200
Lack of Funding, Training and Understanding of Resources Needed and Given 201
Disability as Specialized Charity 202
Superficial CRPD Mainstreaming in Development Aid 204
Rights Divorced from Local Realities 205
Lack of a Regulatory and Legislative Framework: The Quest for African Disability Rights 206
Conclusion 207
Acknowledgements 208
Notes 208
References 208
10: Activism and the Arms Trade: Exposing the Shadow World 212
Introduction 212
The Nature of the Global Arms Business 213
Who Suffers the Consequences of the Arms Trade? 216
Anti-Arms-Trade Activism from the First World War to Vietnam 218
The Landmines Campaign 222
The Cluster Munitions Campaign 227
Other Attempts to Emulate the ICBL 230
The Arms Trade Treaty 233
A Progressive Agenda for Anti-Arms Trade Activism 235
Notes 237
References 237
11: A Right to Land? Activism Against Land Grabbing in Africa 240
Introduction 240
Narrating the Land Grab 243
Land Grab Advocacy: Networks and Frames 246
Defining the Right to Land 253
Land and People: Learning from African Activists 255
Conclusion 260
Notes 261
References 265
12: Conclusion: Reclaiming Activism 271
Introduction 271
(i) Empower Local Actors to Define Advocacy Targets, Methods, Narratives and Success 272
(ii) Recognize Complexity of Cases and Target Underlying Issues 274
(iii) Inclusivity: Engage a Wide Swathe of Actors 276
(iv) Accept Diverse Voices and Reject Singular Narratives 277
(v) Key Audiences 279
About the Contributors 283
Index 288
Back Cover Back cover