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In this case study of a young, Thai “cause lawyer”, advocacy for human rights is considered in context. The most important elements of that context are the path of development of Thai political and legal institutions, globalisation of law, and the networks of relationships that penetrate the state. The case study shows that human rights advocacy by NGO lawyers can adapt creatively to unpromising conditions under which courts provide little access or oversight. At the same time, the case study raises profound questions about the ultimate independence of cause lawyers when the state must be made a partner in order to establish the authority of law needed to make human rights advocacy possible. The ambiguity of the lawyer’s position is apparent from the relative ineffectiveness of her interventions and her growing moral authority on behalf of best practices under law. Her position suggests the limitations on law imposed by the underpinnings of the Thai state itself.


39 Asian Studies Review 69-87 (2015)