FINAL EXAM Essay Example

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With reference to at least two (2) examples from the course, compare and contrast past campaigns for human rights. Why did the campaigners use the strategies and tactics that they did? How did their methods affect their success or failure in achieving their goals?


Human rights campaigns in the past were focused fighting against oppression by governments as well as the discrimination that some groups of people were being subjected to, such as racial segregation. Examples of such campaigns include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington and the Black Consciousness Movement. This essay will compare and contrast the aims of these campaigns and discuss why the campaigners used the strategies and tacts that they applied in the campaigns. The essay will also assess how the methods used in the campaign affected the success or failure of achieving the campaign’s intended goals.

Overview of the various human rights campaigns and their aims

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was protest campaign that followed the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955. Rosa, a black person, had been arrested for defying an order to leave her bus seat so that a white passenger could sit on it. Rosa Parks was an active member of a group called the National Association for the Advancement of coloured people (NAACP). During this time, Montgomery was a society characterised by deep racial segregation in that the buses used for transported required passengers, who included white people and black people, to sit in a segregated manner. There was a moveable colour line that separated blacks from whites, with only the white people allowed to sit on the front seats of the buses. Even the passengers who use the Montgomery buses were mostly African Americans, white drivers were oftentimes rude to the African Americans, and any African American who protested was arrested and taken to jail. Following Rosa’s arrest, Americans of African descent boycotted the buses from 5 December 1955 to 20 December 1956, in what can be regarded as the first large-scale protest against racial discrimination in the United States.

The Birmingham campaign

The Birmingham campaign which was held in Alabama in starting from 1963 and led by Martin Luther King, was aimed at protesting against unfair laws that targeted black people. The campaign involved nationally-publicised confrontations between protesters of African descent and the white authorities. Through the protests, the protesters wanted to, among other things, pressure businesses that were owned by white people to employ people of Americans of African descent and to send the discrimination that black people were being subjected to in regard to the use of public facilities.

The March on Washington

The March on Washington campaign was organised soon after the Birmingham campaign. During this campaign, Martin Luther King led his followers to the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered the famous speech dubbed “I have a Dream”. Through this speech, King clarified his visualization of the Beloved Community – a society characterised by equal opportunity, social justice and love for all people regardless of their racial background. In particular, Martin Luther envisioned a society in all people who be treated with dignity regardless of their colour as where the society would be ruled that were not biased against any group of people.

The Black Consciousness Movement

The Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa came into being during the late 1960s and thrived in the early to mid-1970s. The movement emerged as an idea of the based on the Black Power Movement that was based in the United States and was also guided by ideas from Stokely Carmichael in particular. The members of the Black Consciousness Movement were also united by the united by the need to fight apartheid, which was rife in South Africa. In particular, the movement sought freedom and equal rights for people who were regarded as black as well as colours (i.e. those of mixed descent) and Indians (people of Asian origin). The most notable person who articulated the ideas of black consciousness was Steve Biko, who was then a student of medicine at the University of Natal.

Strategies and tactics used by the campaigners and why they were used

Most of the human rights campaigns that have been outlined above employed non-violent strategies that involved boycotts, of some services or work, sit-ins and marches on streets. However, some of the campaigns would turn violent when the authorities against which the protests were being held would use force in an attempt to disperse the protesters. In some instance, the authorities or other groups who did not like the protests would also target the leaders of the human rights campaigns. The use of peaceful demonstrations was meant to pass a message that the protesters wanted the authorities to listed to them and accord them the rights that they wanted.

To start with Montgomery Bus Boycott, which involved African Americans boycotting the services of the buses that were used for public transport was meant to send a message to the government that the black people were as important as any other race of people in the United States. Instead of taking buses, the porters walked to work or used bicycles. Notably, since the African American accounted for the majority of the people who used buses for transport in the area around Montgomery the action of boycotting the buses sent a clear message that black people were important this action would deny the business the transit revenue.

The Birmingham campaign was equally a peaceful campaign since it involved a series of non-violent marches on the streets, lunch counter sit-ins, and boycotts against businesses that were owned by white people. All these action were aimed at fighting unfair laws that targeted black people, and promoted vices such as discrimination against black people in areas such as employment and use of public facilities. Therefore, through sit-ins, marches on the streets and boycotts against some services, the protesters wanted the authorities to hear their voices accord them the rights that they were being denied.

The tactic used in the March on Washington is similar to the strategy that was employed in Birmingham campaign. In the March on Washington campaign, Martin Luther King addresses a large gathering of people and articulated the issues that he wished the authorities would address so as to have a society in which everyone is treated with dignity and has equal rights as any other person regardless of the colour of the individual.

The Black Consciousness Movement, as the name implies was aimed at creating awareness that black people in this case Indians and coloured people included), had their own culture and history that was different from that of the white people. These people involved in the movement their wanted to be identified they were and not be judged based on the norms and values of the white people. Partakers in the Black Consciousness Movement were particularly against the arrest and persecution of African leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu who, campaigned against apartheid. The movement was non-violent and operated within the law.

How the methods that were used in the campaign affected the success or failure of achieving the campaign’s intended goals

A key characteristic that is shared by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington, and the Black Consciousness Movement is that all the campaigns were peaceful. The key question is whether the approach used by the protesters in the different campaigners was successful of failed in achieving what the protestor wanted to achieve. To a large extent, the peaceful approach to the campaigns helped the campaigns achieve their objectives. For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott sent a strong message to the authorities and bus owners given that most African Americans offered to walk or use bicycles, thus denying the bus business revenue and paralysing the buses’ operations. Also, in the court case that followed the protest, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Montgomery Improvement Association (the organisation that had organised the protests) by declaring that the use of segregated buses was against the constitution of the United States.

In regard to the Birmingham campaign, it has been argues that “the strategy worked in all respects” (Kolb, 2007, p. 120). This is economic boycott of businesses, picketing, massive demonstrations, and sit-ins that characterised the campaign prompted the business community that has been isolating the protestors to negotiate a settlement with protesters. It is also the pressure from the Birmingham campaign and the March on Washington that created the conditions for the drafting andenactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Similarly, the peaceful campaign approach used the Black Consciousness Movement enabled acted as a launch pad for the other protests that advocated for the release of Nelson Mandela and other leaders from prison.


Overall, human rights campaigners in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington, and the Black Consciousness Movement used peaceful demonstrations to demand equal rights and an end to segregation by the white people. The approaches used such as street marches, boycotts and sit-ins all helped the campaigners to get what they wanted since the authorities and other concerned parties somehow softened their stances towards segregation against black people after each of wave of protests.


Discuss at least two (2) current human rights issues examined in the course. What are the key details of those human rights issues? How might individuals or groups effectively bring about positive change regarding the examples you have chosen?

There are many human rights issues today. This essay will discuss globalisation and transnational corporations and how they relate to human rights. Essay starts by defining the concepts of globalisation and transnational corporations. This is followed by presenting the key human rights issues that are related to globalisation and transnational corporations. The last part of the essay is a discussion on how individuals or groups might effectively bring about positive change as regards human rights issues in the context of globalisation and transnational corporations.

Definitions of human rights, globalisation and transnational corporations

Human rights can be defined as set of entitlements and claims to human dignity that are supposed to be guaranteed to citizens by the state. Human rights can also be defined as the things that are believed to belong justly to each individual.

Globalisation can be defined as the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of the modern world due to increased flow of capital, services, goods, information and people. Globalisation is fuelled by advances in technology as well as reductions in the charges involved in international transactions, which enables the spread of ideas and technology and helps increase the production capacity of the world as well as the mobility of capital. What this means is that through globalisation, it is possible for people, capital and technology to be spread across the world. In the process, there is a transfer of labour, culture and many other aspects from one region of the world to another. Also, as a result of globalisation, the influence of states tends to become diminished as the world gets more interconnected and ‘borderless’.

Closely related to globalisation are transnational corporations. These are corporations that are incorporated in one country and also have their affiliates operating in many other counties across the world. In other worlds, transnational corporations are organisations that operate in more than one country. Transnational corporations are related to globalisation because the interconnectedness and interdependence of the modern world, which is as a result of globalisation, enables the transnational corporations to obtained labour different counties, set up their manufacturing operations in various countries, find markets in which to sell their goods all over the world.

Key details of human rights issues relating to globalisation and transnational corporations

Human rights issues are intertwined with the phenomena of globalisation and transnational corporations because of various reasons. To start with, globalisation is seen to contribute to many human rights abuses. For instance, cases of human trafficking and child labour have increased as a result of globalisation. This is because labour is required in different regions across the world, and as a result of the interconnectedness of the world, is possible to obtain such labour even using crooked means such as child labour and human trafficking. Also, is has become more difficult for states to monitor the operations of their citizens, hence, many cases of human trafficking are and child labour are likely to go on even without states noticing.

Transnational corporations are also involved in the fray of human rights abuses. In many countries across the world, and especially in the developing countries, many transnational corporations are accused of human rights violations such as subjecting their employees to low pay, working conditions that are not conducive, long working hours and so forth. Some Transnational corporations even use child labour in their production operations in order to lower costs. The transnational corporations involved in such human rights violations usual take advantage of the fact that many developing countries have weak human rights laws and poorly developed labour regulations among other issues to exploit workers. Therefore, they relocate their operations to such countries where the cost of labour is cheap and also where are not likely to be subjected to a lot of scrutiny in regard to how they treat their employees.

How individuals or groups might effectively bring about positive change as regards human rights issues in the context of globalisation and transnational corporations

Individuals or groups can effectively bring about positive change as regards human rights issues in the context of globalisation and transnational corporations by encouraging states and organisations to observe and uphold human rights. Different organisations, unions and individuals can take not of cases where human rights are violated as a result of the globalised nature of the world or due to the operations of transnational corporations and petition the relevant organisations to act. For instance, citizens in a given country can choose to boycott goods that are supplied by a company that uses child labour in its operations. The citizens of a county can also expose a company that treats its employees unfairly and petition the respective government or governments to take action against such a company. The citizens of a given country can also petition their government to engage in practices such as trade with a country that condones the violation of human rights. As well, a group of countries or a given region bloc of countries can, through their representatives who are citizens, choose to impose sanctions against a country that condones human rights violations such as torture of its citizens.


This essay has discussed two current issues that are related to human rights: globalisation and transnational corporations. It has been argue that globalisation and transnational corporations are related to human rights because the two concepts affects operations on a global scale. Notably, there is interconnectedness and interdependence of the world as a result of globalisation, and this enables transnational corporations to carry out their operations across the world. Bur as a result of globalisation, there is also an increase in human rights violation because of the increased ease of flow of people and capital. Thus, cases if human trafficking and child labour are on the rise. Some transnational corporations are involved because they use the opportunity to subject their employees to unconducive work conditions. As it has been noted, citizens can get involved by petitions states and transnational corporations not to engage in human rights violations through various actions, including boycotts and campaigns.


Kolb, F. (2007). Protest and opportunities: The political outcomes of social movements. Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag.