‘Once and For All’: The Fourth UN World Conference on Women and the Institutionalisation of Women's Human Rights in American Foreign Policy

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThough the slogan predates the Fourth UN World Conference on Women, ‘women's rights are human rights’ has become inextricably linked to US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's keynote address at the 1995 Conference in Beijing. The speech turned a line socialised by transnational feminist organisers into a State Department mantra with long‐lasting policy ripples still felt today. This article uses new sources from the Office of the First Lady to examine the intra‐departmental dynamics, policy architecture and domestic political considerations that shaped the content of the speech and the Clinton Administration's conception of women's rights as human rights. Early documents show that a focus on human rights was not inevitable, as other policy areas were better developed with more public support. But fear of rollback from previous international standards, external pressures from civil society, a desire to link foreign policy with domestic political aims and ultimately a strong backlash to American participation at the Conference on the basis of China's human rights record all elevated women's human rights as a US delegation priority.</jats:p>

4408 Political Science, 44 Human Society, 5 Gender Equality, 4 Quality Education
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Gender and History
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