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Human Rights, Nation States, and NGOs: Structural Holes and the Emergence of Global Regimes

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This article adapts Burt's 1992 network theory of structural holes to explore dynamic developments within global organizational networks, questioning the proposition that alternative forms of organizing are replacing the nation state as the central figure on the global stage. Our analysis of structural holes within the emerging global human rights regime moves beyond Burt's “ideal” conception of “communication as information” and expands Burt's notion of competitive environments, reconciling tensions associated with two opposing network theories, network closure and structural holes. Analyzing two interdependent historical cases—the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and the subsequent creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975—we demonstrate the ways in which filling structural holes not only strengthens NGOs' positions within the global network but simultaneously reinforces the robustness of the entire regime network and the nation state.

Keywords: Globalization; Human Rights; NGOs; Structural Holes

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2005


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