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The Boomerang Pattern: Verification and Modification


  • David Bassano


When Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink published Activists Beyond Borders in 1998, they offered the emergent field of human rights history the first clear model of the relatively new phenomenon of international human rights activism. Termed the Boomerang Pattern, the model demonstrates how NGOs of the (predominantly) Third World work with international NGOs to address human rights violations in their own countries. A document from the archival collection of Amnesty International USA, created in the 1980s but only available to the public since 2007, verifies the accuracy of the Boomerang Pattern in describing transnational human rights activism. However, the Boomerang Pattern primarily describes how activism is designed to work, rather than present the complications and difficulties that NGOs encounter in their international campaigns. This article complicates the Boomerang Pattern in order to more accurately describe transnational human rights activism by drawing on examples from the Nicaraguan and Salvadoran human rights movements of the 1980s.

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