Human rights organizations have grown exponentially across the globe, particularly in the global South, and the term human rights is now common parlance among politicians and civil society activists. While debates about human rights are waged in elite circles, what do publics in the global South think about human rights ideas and the organizations that promote them?
Drawing on large-scale public opinion surveys and interviews with human rights practitioners in India, Mexico, Morocco, and Nigeria, Taking Root finds that most people are in fact broadly supportive of human rights discourse, trust local human rights groups, and do not view human rights as a tool of foreign powers. However, this general public support isn’t grounded in strong commitments of public engagement, money, or local ties to the human rights sector. Publics in the global South do donate to charitable causes and organizations but rarely give to local rights groups, and these organizations must instead seek aid from foreign sources.
As the most informative and comprehensive account of public perceptions of human rights available across several regions of the world, Taking Root challenges a number of accepted truths held by human rights supporters and skeptics alike.