Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations


Advocacy Networks, sexual violence, prosecution


"This thesis explores how human rights advocacy organizations have influenced the increased prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence in international criminal courts. This thesis will use the cases of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demonstrate that well-established international human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and legal coalitions have been the primary actors in transnational human rights advocacy networks to influence the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence in international criminal courts. The objective of the thesis is to focus on the major players in human rights advocacy networks and examine the evolution of tactics, strategies, and professionalization in their work to prosecute sexual violence. Transnational human rights advocacy networks have professionalized and legitimized themselves by becoming legal and investigative experts, in addition to their roles as advocates. They have in turn refined their investigative and report writing skills regarding conflict-related sexual violence to a level acceptable to legal institutions. This professionalization and legitimization has led to professional contacts and has given them access to legal institutions of international criminal tribunals and courts. I will argue that the internal dynamics and professionalization of international human rights advocacy NGOs and legal coalitions provide the best explanation as to how human rights advocacy networks have influenced the prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence. Building upon the theory of transnational advocacy networks, I will identify additional strategies and tactics of transnational human rights advocacy organizations in influencing legal institutions and international organizations. By focusing on the internal make-up and dynamics of advocacy organizations centered on this issue, I will attempt to identify a better understanding of how these organizations have influenced sexual violence prosecution in international criminal courts and international legal norms."


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