Cover image for Diplomacy of conscience : Amnesty International and changing human rights norms
Diplomacy of conscience : Amnesty International and changing human rights norms
Clark, Ann Marie, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 183 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1690 Lexile.
Corporate Subject:
Subject Term:

Format :


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JC571 .C613 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A small group founded Amnesty International in 1961 to translate human rights principles into action. Diplomacy of Conscience provides a rich account of how the organization pioneered a combination of popular pressure and expert knowledge to advance global human rights. To an extent unmatched by predecessors and copied by successors, Amnesty International has employed worldwide publicity campaigns based on fact-finding and moral pressure to urge governments to improve human rights practices. Less well known is Amnesty International's significant impact on international law. It has helped forge the international community's repertoire of official responses to the most severe human rights violations, supplementing moral concern with expertise and conceptual vision.

Diplomacy of Conscience traces Amnesty International's efforts to strengthen both popular human rights awareness and international law against torture, disappearances, and political killings. Drawing on primary interviews and archival research, Ann Marie Clark posits that Amnesty International's strenuously cultivated objectivity gave the group political independence and allowed it to be critical of all governments violating human rights. Its capacity to investigate abuses and interpret them according to international standards helped it foster consistency and coherence in new human rights law.

Generalizing from this study, Clark builds a theory of the autonomous role of nongovernmental actors in the emergence of international norms pitting moral imperatives against state sovereignty. Her work is of substantial historical and theoretical relevance to those interested in how norms take shape in international society, as well as anyone studying the increasing visibility of nongovernmental organizations on the international scene.

Author Notes

Ann Marie Clark is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Purdue University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Clark, a political scientist, shows that Amnesty International (AI), founded in 1961, not only has worked to improve the fate of individual prisoners but also has helped construct norms against torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions--the primary subject of this book. For the details of release of prisoners of conscience and other matters about individuals, one should read Jonathan Powers's Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International (2001). Clark is mostly concerned with the progression of ideas and how AI has helped change the rules of international relations. She argues that AI has engaged in four tasks to rewrite the rules of proper state behavior: fact-finding, consensus building, norm construction, and norm application. She provides detailed histories of the evolution of her three principled norms--against torture, forced disappearances, and political murder--stressing the role of AI. She demonstrates that AI was at the center of such developments, but there is no avoiding the equally important fact that key states such as Sweden and the Netherlands were also essential in the development of these ideas, which became codified in international law and diplomacy. The chapter on the theory of international relations may prove tiresome, but overall this is a solid analysis. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. D. P. Forsythe University of Nebraska

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Diplomacy of Consciencep. 2
Chapter 1 Amnesty International in International Politicsp. 3
Chapter 2 How Norms Growp. 21
Chapter 3 Torturep. 37
Chapter 4 Disappearancesp. 70
Chapter 5 Extrajudicial Executionsp. 101
Chapter 6 Ngos and Norms in International Politicsp. 124
Appendix Interviewsp. 143
Notesp. 145
Bibliographyp. 169
Indexp. 177