Documenting human rights violations: In partnership with or in contention of the state?
In this project, I study the documentation of human rights violations by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I ask whether the documentation of human rights violations automatically positions non-governmental organizations as contenders of the state. Or, whether non-governmental actors engaged in the monitoring and documentation of human rights violations could be equally perceived as state partners. To examine possible answers to this question, the study proposes to examine how human rights NGOs document severe personal integrity rights violations, such as killings and disappearances. The project will illuminate the types of strategies these actors adopt versus the state and the public while documenting grave human rights abuses. A key focus will be on the issue of legitimacy: how do non-governmental actors establish legitimacy versus the state and the public for monitoring and documenting human rights abuses that may be regarded controversial due to ethnic tensions? To answer these questions, I engage in a study of non-governmental actors who document severe human rights violations during past ethnic conflict in Kosovo.