Advocating for Accountability: Civic-State Interactions to Protect Refugees in South Africa

By Jeff Handmaker

In the 1950s, civic society in South Africa became mobilized against racist laws that penetrated nearly every aspect of civic life. The social justice struggle that eventually displaced white minority rule culminated in democratic elections in 1994. Following this historic transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, other issues came to the fore, including how the government was to receive persons claiming refugee status on the basis of persecution and war. Civic actors in South Africa again became mobilized around these 'new' human rights and social justice issues. At different moments, civic actors became engaged either in working with the government to develop a refugee policy, or in confronting the government to fulfill its national and international obligations towards refugees. This book discusses the dynamics of civic-state interactions aimed at the state's obligations to promote, protect, and fulfill human rights. Through the lens of refugee rights advocacy in South Africa, in the first decade of its post-1994 period of democracy, this book examines and explains the circumstances under which civic-state interactions can lead to structural change, and what these interactions can teach us about the potential of civic society to realize rights in general.

258 pages

Publication Date: 9/30/2009
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9789050959100