Carola Stern: When Hope Learned to Walk, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
In her address, held in the Frankfurt Paulskirche on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Carola Stern recalls the foundation of the human rights organisation „amnesty international". From her perspective as a co-founder of the German amnesty-chapter, Stern sketches the ups and downs in the history of this now widely recognised organisation and relates them to political developments since the 1960s. She emphasises that social engagement continues to be necessary to counter violations of human rights, both now, and in the future.Wei Jingsheng: Intervention Instead of Silent Diplomacy, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
Wei Jengshing, a Chinese human rights activist in exile, honours the work of amnesty international and emphasises the need for world-wide engagement for the implementation of human rights. From the perspective of the human rights situation in China and his own personal experience there, he calls upon politicians to actively intervene with regimes that violate human rights. The principle of non-intervention in internal affairs should not be allowed to serve as an excuse for a lack of political engagement.Georg Lohmann: Different Types of Human Rights and Their Justification Problems, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
Georg Lohmann investigates the justification problems of human rights in the context of the tension between the moral ideal and its politico-juridical institutionalisation. He analyses the development of human rights as a reaction to a stepwise radicalisation of standards of justification. Lohmann distinguishes three different types of human rights and analyses their respective moral and politico-juridical justification structures: negative freedom rights, positive participation rights, and social participation rights. His analysis makes clear that the development of the conception of human rights has not yet been completed. In the eyes of the author, a correct understanding of the complex interrelationships among the three types of human rights may enhance both the credibility, and the assertiveness of human rights.Volkmar Deile: Evaluation and Perspectives of Engagement for Human Rights, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
Volkmar Diele, general secretary of amnesty international, offers an evaluative perspective on the present shift from the codification of human rights to their political implementation. He discusses different perspectives on the present lines of conflict, in the light of global discussions on individual human rights violations, as well as on fundamental ethical questions. The permanent conflict potential in the relations between the human rights movement, on the one hand, and state and economic actors, on the other, demonstrates both the persistence of human rights violations, and the need for preventive action. The hopes and future aims of the human rights movement must be sought, according to the author, in a better co-operation between activist groups. Especially through professional public relations they may create the public pressure necessary to arrive at the implementation of, and compliance with the given standards.Steffen Beitz: A Life-Threatening Task – Human Rights in the Year 2000, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
Steffen Beitz points out that in many countries human rights activists have themselves become subjected to state persecution. The majority of the member states of the UN therefore agreed in the 1980s that special measures to protect the private life situations and working conditions of human rights activists were needed. However, it was only in 1998 that the Human Rights Commission could agree on a declaration to this end. The document is the result of a compromise and consequently it still leaves room for states to continue to act repressively. Nevertheless, some decisive improvements were achieved. The means by which a better protection of human rights activists can be achieved include raising public awareness, award ceremonies, as well as emergency campaigns by human rights organisations. Foreign diplomats may also exert pressure on governments, but because of political interests this option is rarely used.Mathias John: Human Rights and the Economy – Incompatible or Inseparable?, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
Mathias John throws light on the relationship between the human rights movement and multinational corporations, the so-called business community. The number of multinationals and thereby their influence have increased strongly in recent years. Their behaviour regarding human rights has, however, also received increased public attention, as a result of the work of critical observers and improved access to information. Referring to different examples, John illustrates the divergent ways in which firms deal with the theme of human rights. Meanwhile some positive examples of corporations exist, which actively support the human rights movement. The majority among the business community however support human rights politics primarily to improve their public image, and this support remains symbolic rather than material. Still, John argues for a critical dialogue between the human rights movement and the business community, aiming at an encompassing, binding, and verifiable code of conduct for private corporations.Harald Gesterkamp/ Peter Lange: Between Censorship and Internet Communication, FJ NSB 1/99, pp.
In their contribution, Gesterkamp and Lange analyse the multidimensional interdependencies between the media and human rights. The media portray human rights as an internationally valid value consensus that extends beyond ideological categories. This view forms the basis for a critical journalism, which, however, also implies serious risks for journalists around the world. The authors describe the complex causal links between more or less developed forms of press and information freedom, media selectivity, as well as the instrumentalisation of the media by political regimes. Further, they discuss the role of new information and communication technologies for human rights activism. Gesterkamp and Lange warn against possible habituation and ritualisation effects of coverage of human rights violations, which may be created by a sensation journalism that is too strongly oriented towards circulation and viewing figures. As an example of a harmful development they mention the CNN-style war and catastrophe journalism, which is very vulnerable to political instrumentalisation aiming at justifying military interventions.