Thursday, November 26, 2015

Unintended Consequences of Trying to Close the Former SOA

I recently had an article accepted in Journal of Human Rights: "Fighting to Close the School of the Americas: Unintended Consequences of Successful Activism." It'll be officially out sometime next year. It's now early view, even before typesetting.


This article examines the structural and institutional changes that have occurred since the controversial United States School of the Americas (SOA) closed and its successor, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) opened in 2001. Placing these changes within a constructivist framework, the article uses the school as a case study to argue that human rights norm diffusion has both increased the amount of human rights in the curriculum and put the school in a much stronger institutional position than it had been. Human rights activists had successfully prompted change, but did not achieve their goal of closing the school. It contributes to the literature by demonstrating how ideas about human rights can have important and lasting effects, but not always in ways that are either predictable or desirable for the political activists who spark them.

This was a fascinating article to research and write, and in my mind is like a sequel to an article I published way back in 2003 on WHINSEC. Two years ago I wrote about its rejection at the first journal.


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