THE RISE OF THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT AS A significant force in world affairs cannot be separated from the Cold War context in which it took place. The Cold War magnified the importance of citizen efforts to promote rights and, though many of those involved in the movement during the Cold War era took significant risks and suffered severe consequences, it was the the circumstances of the East-West conflict that attracted many of them to the cause in the first place. Rights activists on both sides of the Iron Curtain became aware that calling attention to abuses of rights by their own governments carried extra weight in an era when a global competition was underway for hearts and minds. Embarrassing their governments sometimes put them in extra danger, but, because reprisals against them created further embarrassment, sometimes provided a measure of protection as well.
The leading nongovernmental human rights organizations operating globally, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, were born at different stages of the Cold War era and the modus operandi of each in turn, at least during their early years, was shaped by the Cold War (see chapters 8 and 9). Their efforts, as well as the efforts of indigenous human rights activists both in the Soviet bloc countries and in countries aligned with the United States were not only influenced by the Cold War context; in addition they had an impact on the way the Cold War played out