November 25, 2014 | By Jake Weber
Scholars, teachers, and activists concerned with human rights have a valuable new resource, thanks to Albion College assistant professor of political science Carrie Booth Walling and University of Michigan professor Susan Waltz. The pair recently launched a website to provide comprehensive information on human rights advocacy and the ongoing standardization of international policy. Their work is featured in the November 2014 edition of Human Rights Quarterly.
With more than 30 years' combined experience in human rights scholarship and research, Walling and Waltz were in the right position to see and respond to the need for a resource like their website, which they describe as a "free online textbook."
"We're often challenged by students, as well as activists, to explain changes we have witnessed," Walling explains. "There has been an explosive growth in human rights standards over the past five decades, and we see a real need for our website as a place where teachers and activists can find historical information to support their current work."
The website also gathers and organizes resources on the standard-setting and advocacy practices of the international human rights movement on a wide range of concerns, including torture, domestic violence and violations of human rights during armed conflict.
Also, "International human rights organizations—like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—play an important role in advocating for new human rights treaties and monitoring their implementation," says Walling. "Unfortunately, the contributions these organizations have made are often not fully appreciated or understood. This website seeks to fill that void."
Last but not least, Walling notes that the website makes important information easy to find. "What I like about the website is how it helps students understand important human rights ideas, like government obligations for human rights protection or the best practices of human rights advocacy," says Walling.
"What I love about our site," she continues, "is how it appeals to students who are technologically savvy and spend significant amounts of time online and using social media. The website works in my classroom as a teaching tool because students appreciate a more cutting-edge, contemporary approach to teaching and learning."