Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Ioana Emy Matesan

Major

Government

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effectiveness of boycott, divestment, and sanctions as strategies used by the South African anti-apartheid movement in order to better understand the prospects of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. I first propose a framework for understanding transnational social movements against oppressive regimes based on three stages: domestic mobilization, international mobilization and decisions by foreign actors, and effect on the offending government. Each of these stages is enhanced or limited by domestic and international contextual factors. I then use this framework to analyze the South African anti-apartheid case in order to understand the effectiveness of boycott, divestment, and sanctions and what conditions allowed the anti-apartheid movement to be successful. Using lessons from this case study, I analyze the recent Palestinian BDS movement and its prospects for success in achieving justice, freedom, and human rights for Palestinians. I conclude that while the BDS movement has potential to grow and put significant pressure on Israel, many of the conditions that allowed the anti-apartheid movement to be successful differ in the Palestinian case, creating significant barriers to the BDS movement's ability to succeed.

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