Documenting human rights violations: In partnership with or in contention of the state?
This project is being funded by Gerda Henkel Stiftung.
In this project, I study the documentation of human rights violations by non- governmental organizations (NGOs). I ask whether documentation efforts automatically position non-governmental organizations as contenders of the state. Or, whether non-governmental actors engaged in the monitoring and documentation of past human rights violations could be equally perceived as state partners. To obtain possible answers to these questions, I examine how human rights NGOs document severe personal integrity rights violations, such as killings and disappearances, that occurred during past ethnic conflict in Kosovo using interviews, media content analysis, field research, and archival work. The project illuminates the types of strategies these actors adopt versus the state and the public while documenting grave human rights abuses of the past. A key focus will be on the issue of legitimacy: I inquire to what degree and how non-governmental actors seek to establish legitimacy vis-a-vis the state and the public for monitoring and documenting human rights abuses that may be regarded controversial due to persisting ethnic tensions.