From The Thin Blue Line: How humanitarianism went to war, by Conor Foley (Verso, 2010), p. 30.
These types of pressure groups exerted a particular influence over the Labour Party in its long years in opposition during the 1980s and 1990s. Labour moved from a leftist unilateralism during the 1980s towards a full embrace of multilateral institutions such as the European Union (EU) and NATO by the 1990s. Its 1997 manifesto included a proposal to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, upgrade its commitment to international development and ‘put human rights at the heart of its foreign policy’.
Human rights also became a recognized force in international relations during the 1990s. The EU made ratification of the European Convention a precondition for states applying for membership, and this process helped the former communist countries of Eastern Europe in their transition to democracy. Turkey’s human rights record significantly improved as a result of the European Court’s judgements and diplomats often spoke of the growing importance of the Court’s ”soft power’ in world affairs. President Bill Clinton also increasingly allied the US Government’s rhetorical support for the promotion of democracy and human rights to the specific standards contained within international human rights treaties. The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights led to the creation of a new UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) the following year. The genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina gave a new sense of urgency to the debates on human rights violations and bridged the gap between human rights and humanitarian organizations. At the same time, in the aftermath of the cold war, some argued that human rights transcended, or even counter-posed, traditional politics. For example, in Values for a Godless Age Francesca Klug contrasted the ‘ethical values’ of human rights with the ‘failed ideologies’ of the mainstream left and right.