This chapter explains that the driving force behind the protection of human rights worldwide, today and for roughly the past thirty-five years, has been the nongovernmental human rights movement. Intermittently during the last two-and-a-half centuries, citizens' movements did play important roles in efforts to promote human rights, as during the development of the antislavery movement in England in the eighteenth century and the rise of the feminist movement in the United States in the nineteenth century. The contemporary human rights movement responds to victories and defeats by shifting focus from time to time, but it shows signs that it will remain an enduring force in world affairs. Efforts by those outside governments have been particularly important in extending the protection of rights beyond national boundaries, and it is in the present era that they have been most significant.
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