Rebecca Barlow and Shahram Akbarzadeh
Barlow, R., Akbarzadeh, S. (2018). Human Rights and Agents of Change in Iran. London: Palgrave MacMillan
Publication year: 2018

This volume extends debates on the interaction between universal human rights and the political experiences of Iranians, through a conceptual analysis of ‘theories of change’. It assesses the practical processes by which individuals, organizations and movements can reform or impact the structural, theological and political challenges faced in the Iranian context.

Contributors to this volume investigate how structures, institutions, and agents in Iran maneuver for influence and power at the state level, through the law, in international corridors, at the grassroots, and by implementing multiple and complex methods. The chapters provide distinct but interrelated analysis of key drivers of change in Iran. A number of those operate primarily through top-down approaches, such as the political reform movement, lawyers pursuing legislative change, and international human rights monitoring bodies. Others take a bottom-up approach, including local movements and campaigns such as the women’s movement, the labor movement, the student movement, and ethnic minority groups.

By prompting drivers of change to think about causation, influence, sequencing, prioritization, roles and relationships, a theory of change ultimately makes the work more effective. Through rigorous analysis of these issues for drivers of change in the Islamic State, this volume is an important contribution to human rights in Iran. In an era of escalating tensions in the Middle East, it amplifies voices of reform and freedom, filling a crucial gap in our understanding of this region.