MORE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:  I agree entirely with Michael that Amnesty is becoming downright creepy.  But I’d add that it faithfully reflects its membership base.  I talk about the moment in which Amnesty decided to affirmatively switch gears from human rights to, well, All Things Globally Progressive and Then Some in this short academic book review.

More generally, the main human rights organizations face an unsustainable dilemma  [corrected, per guest ed. Michelle Dulak Thomson]. On the one hand, merely converting all supposedly “progressive” values into claims of human rights, which means economic, social, and cultural claims that make “human rights” a mile wide and a nan0-inch thick. And, on the other hand, the gradual capture of the language and international machinery of human rights by Islamic states and their agendas, in which human rights is gradually converted into a language for suppressing criticism of Islam.

The effect of the former is, ironically, not to make more progressive agenda items more enforced as actual rights, but instead merely to show that anything can be framed as a right – and so to hand it over as a rhetorical language to the illiberalism of the Muslim world and its most influential states.  The dominant human rights monitors, meanwhile, gradually turn into being elite global managers of a human rights agenda amounting to the endorsement of “global religious communalism,” the first tenet of which is the denial of free speech.   (I myself recommend the Human Rights Foundation, which is currently holding the Oslo Freedom Forum.)