This dialogue took place from April 22 to 28, 2009. New Tactics was pleased to partner on this dialogue with the PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, which serves as facilitators of developing human rights cities around the world. The dialogue below shares how local civil society leaders, members of PDHRE network, facilitate the learning about human rights as a way of life for communities to generate innovative and exciting actions towards social and economic transformation. Below is a brief summary of the dialogue that can assist you in navigating the rich exchange.
Please see the additional biographical information on the following Featured Resource Practitioners for this dialogue:
- Raymond Atuguba, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana
- Wolfgang Benedek, Chairman of the Human Rights Advisory Council of Graz and Director of the Institute of International Law and International Relations of the University of Graz, Austria
- Satya Brata Das, Senior Policy Advisor, Edmonton, Canada
- Emiliano Casal, Institute of Gender, Law and Development, Rosario, Argentina
- Susana Chiarotti, Director, Institute of Gender, Law and Development, Rosario, Argentina
- Viviana Della Siega, Institute of Gender, Law and Development and Coordinator, Steering Committee of Program Rosario, Human Rights City, Argentina
- Joy Fraser, Associate Professor, Health Administration Centre for State and Legal Studies, Athabasca University, Canada
- Fabien Kanyangusho Karamira, Musha Human Rights City, Rwanda
- Shulamith Koenig, Founder, PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, and Human Right Cities, New York, USA
- Julia Veronica Matus Madrid, Director of the Extension Program at UNIACC University, Santiago, Chile
- Kathleen Modrowski, Director of Global Studies at the Global College, Long Island University, and Board Member of PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, USA
- Jean-Louis Peta Ikambana, Area Director of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Washington, DC Human Rights City Program, a PDHRE initiative, USA
- Carlos Alberto S N Soares, Brazilian psychologist, Coordinator, Steering Committee of Porto Alegre Human Rights City, Brazil
- Renee Vaugeois, Executive Director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, and Human Rights City, Edmonton, Canada
[Photo credit: Photo taken from the Human Rights Cities Book]
Summary of the Dialogue
The New Tactics Dialogue “Building Human Rights Cities” began with discussion about the role of the media in building human rights cities. Participants discussed the importance of engaging and informing journalists about their role in human rights learning and providing them with tools to better understand, inform and promote human rights learning. A number of other ways in which media has been utilized for human rights learning and promoting the establishment of Human Rights Cities included:
- Uses of radio including creating discussions, educating marginalized groups and organizing social movements.
- The use of text messaging for organizing, giving voice to marginalized groups and recruiting new volunteers to promote human rights learning.
- Video Journalism to produce reports for those who are most unable to express themselves.
The participants shared the importance and benefits of establishing a Human Rights City and provided insights on the intial steps they have found useful. Contributors considered the first phase, the Needs Assessment, to be extremely important. This phase includes engaging the local communities and reaching out to other Non-governmental organizations in the area and to best achieve a thorough needs assessement along with building community investment.
The dialogue also shared how several human rights cities are using participatory budgeting as a tool to move their objectives forward. The participants laid out obstacles, such as convincing the government to engage, and opportunities, such as empowering women in new ways, along with other experiences highlighting the significant benefits of using this tactic.
Dialogue participants shared their personal stories of being involved in creating space for human rights learning. A participant told the story of coordinating the Human Rights City of Edmonton, Canada and a toolkit they will be making available to those interested in building a human rights city based on their model. There were a number of other excellent resources highlighted during the dialogue including the following: Human Rights Cities: Civic Engagement for Societal Development, the Human Rights City Needs Assesment, Journalists for Human Rights website, as well as the NewTactics' Resource for Practitioners.
Finally, the dialogue concluded with a wide variety of possible practices to encourage other cities to build a Human Rights City. Human Rights cities can have many benefits such as engaging in such actions as election monitoring, theater and human rights prizes. Participants discussed the need to overcome short-term setbacks and keep focused on long term goals when advancing human rights learning and building a Human Rights City. Finally, PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning reached out at the end of the dialogue and asked for partners who would be interested in working together to advance human rights learning through the building of Human Rights Cities throughout the world.