Since the 1950s, the Netherlands has seen a steady growth of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) devoted to the cause of human rights. In the ensuing decades they proliferated and expanded their leverage. At the same time, human rights attained a more secure position on the foreign policy agenda of the Dutch government. Against this background the question arises, to what extent foreign policy¬-making in the field of human rights is determined by the activities of NGOs.
The present study focuses on the efforts of domestic NGOs to have an impact on Dutch human rights policy towards South Africa, Namibia, Indonesia and East Timor from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. It appraises whether NGOs have been able to influence Dutch human rights policy towards these countries. Furthermore, it clarifies which factors contributed to and detracted from the influence of these groups. The characteristics of NGOs are taken into consideration, along with the strategies applied and the interaction between NGOs, as well as factors regarding the political environment.
Conclusions about NGO-influence and contributive and detracting factors are reached on the basis of five case studies. These concern the efforts of NGOs (1) to press the government to implement a boycott of South African coal (1979-1990); (2) to promote an active policy against the application of capital punishment in South Africa under apartheid (1978-1993); (3) to end the enrichment of Namibian uranium in the Netherlands (1977-1989); (4) to promote an active policy against the execution of political prisoners in Indonesia (1979-1995); and finally, (5) to promote an active policy in reaction to the Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor (1991-1995).
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The Human Rights Research Series’ central research theme is the nature and meaning of international standards in the field of human rights, their application and promotion in the national legal order, their interplay with national standards, and the international supervision of such application. Anyone directly involved in the definition, study, implementation, monitoring, or enforcement of human rights will find this series an indispensable reference tool.
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Editorial Board of the Series: Prof. dr. J.E. Goldschmidt (Utrecht University), Prof. dr. D.A. Hellema (Utrecht University), Prof. dr. W.J.M. van Genugten (Tilburg University), Prof. dr. F. Coomans (Maastricht University), Prof. dr. P.A.M. Mevis (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Dr.J.-P. Loof (Leiden University) and Dr. O.M. Ribbelink (Asser Institute).
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