In this section, we will introduce transnational corporations and social movements as influential players joining traditional state actors on the human rights scene.
The principal players at the time of the UDHR’s adoption were state actors, in the role of both abusers and guarantors of human rights. The entire point of the UDHR was to rein in abuses of state power by granting protections to individual persons. States were to hold themselves accountable for the provision and protection of the human rights of their respective citizens; as a consequence of this compact, states agreed to be the guarantors of their citizens’ human rights and agreed also to the legitimacy of being brought to justice by other compacting states for any serious breached.
Twiss notes that “some might say that it was unwise to put the foxes in charge of the chicken coops, but it must be said that anything more than this strategy — particularly with the then emerging Cold War — was simply not politically feasible” (2004: 51). How has this situation changed at all in recent years, and how do these changes relate to the phenomenon of globalization? Twiss illustrates three topics in response: revisionment of the role of state actors in the international arena, the rise of transnational corporate actors, and the emergence of new social movements and the rising prominence of NGOs (2004).
Next: State Actors