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Share your stories, resources and tools.  

Do you have guides, tools, websites, videos, books, tips, etc that doesn't quite fit uder the other discussion threads? Share your stories, resources and tools here.

Human Rights Toolkit

Our Human Rights Toolkit series - aimed at practitioners in the USA - is available at We tackle rights to education, housing, health, food, migrants, women, workers, persons with disabilities, and the death penalty, in addition to general human rights.

The toolkits each provide easy take-action ideas for people with 10 minutes or much more time to give who want to build support for human rights implementation.

Human Rights Approach to Social Justice Work

I mentioned this in my comment on the steps to domesticating international law, but I wanted to include it here for anyone who came straight to the tools section for ideas.  To strengthen the capacity of all organizations to use human rights to combat entrenched poverty, discrimination, and injustice, the Advocates for Human Rights has developed a training and accompanying manual entitled, A Human Rights Approach to Social Justice Work.

Almost anyone – social justice organizations, community service groups, human rights advocates and other members of civil society – can benefit from following a human rights approach. It helps ensure more participatory and sustainable solutions to social justice issues, provides common standards against which to measure the shortcomings of domestic policies, reframes social justice issues as human rights violations, expands the circle of allies to the larger global human rights community, and enhances accountability beyond the U.S. justice or political systems.

This hands-on training combines short presentations with interactive activities, including large group discussions, small group work, and role plays. Participants will analyze situations from their own experiences and evaluate how applying a human rights framework would change their approach to solving problems within their community. The training provides tools such as organizational assessments, case studies, and implementation models to help organizations create an action plan for using human rights principles in their own operations and advocacy work.

For more information about scheduling a training on applying a human rights approach to your work, please contact Emily Farell at 612-341-3302, ext. 124 ( or Madeline Lohman at 612-341-3302, ext. 135 (

Friday light relief - etymology question

Hello All,

Before I begin, I realise this post will sound a little incongruous given the serious tone of the discussions so far, but let me assure you my curiosity is genuine.

I would like to know how the word domestication came to be used in the context of human rights law. Every dictionary to which I have access defines domestication as the adaptation of animals (and/or plants) to living in intimate association with human beings, ie being "tamed" - or something similar.

Before coming to Geneva, I had never heard this term used in the context of implementing international law, so I would love to hear if anyone knows/remembers when it took on this sense or whether there was ever a discussion about this.


I have to agree with you,

I have to agree with you, Adam. I think the word domesticating is misleading -- I would prefer implementing human rights in domestic contexts or something like that.  Or even, human rights at home.  Sometimes we create buzz words that serve to exclude the public, the opposite of what we aim to do!

Legal Reform

As part of the training that Madeline mentioned above, four key strategies for how to apply a human rights approach are explained in detail as well as how these strategies affect an organization’s social just work in terms of planning and actions.  One important strategy is working with duty-bearers – meaning working with those have a responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.  The Advocates work on human sex trafficking in Minnesota is a great example of working with duty-bearers through legal reform.  Here is a quick summary of the project:

In 2007, The Advocates’ Women’s Program conducted a human sex trafficking needs assessment for the state of Minnesota. The assessment, requested by the Minnesota Trafficking Task Force, was undertaken using the documentation and fact-finding techniques the Advocates developed in their human rights monitoring work abroad. The assessment looked at the services available to and the barriers faced by trafficked persons when seeking safety and support.

The report Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota, published in September 2008, examined the government response to this issue at the local, state, tribal and federal levels; identified facilities and services currently available to trafficking victims in Minnesota; assessed their effectiveness; and made recommendations for coordinating services to better meet the needs of sex trafficking victims statewide.  As a follow-up to the recommendations, The Advocates’ worked with the MN Trafficking Task Force to draft a bill that connected domestic legal protection with international human rights standards. The bill aimed to strengthen Minnesota’s sex trafficking law through amendments that would enable law enforcement and prosecutors to better hold perpetrators accountable.  Specifically, the amendments to the law:

  • Provide law enforcement and prosecutors with the ability to arrest and charge sex traffickers with higher penalties where an offender repeatedly trafficks individuals into prostitution, where bodily harm is inflicted, where an individual is held more than 180 days, or where more than one victim is involved;
  • Increase the fines for those who sell human beings for sex; 
  • Criminalize the actions of those individuals who receive profit from sex trafficking;
  • Categorize sex trafficking with other “crimes of violence” to ensure that those who sell others for sex are prohibited from possessing firearms; and
  • Add sex trafficking victims to those victims of “violent crime” who are protected from employer retaliation if they participate in criminal proceedings against their traffickers.

The Minnesota Legislature unanimously passed and the governor signed the “Bill for an Act to Combat Trafficking in Minnesota” into law on May 21, 2009.  As a whole, the amendments send a strong message that Minnesota will not tolerate sexual slavery and involuntary servitude and that the perpetrators of such acts will be held accountable. 


This is a great story, Emily! Thanks for sharing. Do you know if similar projects have been implemented in other states? Have the Advocates documented this process so that others could carry it out in their own states or perhaps even cities and countries?

Similar processes and pitfalls

kantin wrote:

Do you know if similar projects have been implemented in other states?

The process of reforming laws on violence against women in order to bring them into compliance with international human rights standards is one that The Advocates uses locally and globally. The story about local sex trafficking legislation that Emily wrote about is a process that has been repeated many times over across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union states, and is now being taken up by countries in Northern Africa, particularly Morocco. The Advocates can end up being involved in the entire process or enter the scene after much of the groundwork had been laid and work with partners from that point forward. The basics of this process, as many of you know, are - documenting and reporting on human rights violations against women; training advocates to use the report to advocate for new legislation/amendments to existing law; educating policymakers about the severity and extent of the problems and potential solutions; and training lawyers, judges, police officers, service providers, and other advocates on the law and effective implementation after a law is passed. The Advocates provides all of its resources it develops on its website dedicated to violence against women - and has recently contributed significant sections to UNIFEM's "Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence Against Women and Girls." While we need to constantly innovate new entry points to bringing human rights home, I am amazed at how efficient and effective this process has become, because it has been honed for so many years. It is also effective because we can share pitfalls that we ran into when writing and implementing similar legislation in Minnesota, and advocates in countries who were in the forefront ten years ago are now also leading their neighbors in moving along a similar pathway and making recommendations to facilitate their efforts.

Any other tried and true processes anyone wishes to share?

Transferability, Sharing


    I am a Humphrey fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School  and I find the Advocates' project interesting and very much related to my studies here as well as in my work at home as Chief Provincial Prosecutor  (  duty-bearer)  and Vice-Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons in my province in Cebu, Philippines.   Under the Philippine Trafficking Law,  its  monitoring and enforcement  is the primary responsibility of a task  force composed of several stakeholders, not only from the government offices, but from the NGO's and private sector as well.  Nationally,  it is headed by the Secretary of Justice and locally, by the Chief of the prosecutor's office.  We have made important inroads in the fight against human trafficking  through  this collaboration of  stakeholders,  and  are seeking for more ways to improve.

    Is  it possible to request for information regarding the project? I would also be happy to share our own efforts in my country.



     Jane Petralba



Guide to International Human Rights Mechanisms

For those interested in monitoring and documentation as a tool for domesticating international human rights – you can check out the Advocates for Human Rights online Guide to International Human Rights Mechanisms which provides advocates and activists with tools to prepare and submit information to international and regional human rights mechanisms. This guide focuses on using treaty-based human rights monitoring bodies and the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review process, both of which allow participation by civil society. The section entitled, Getting Started: From Documentation to Advocacy is specifically for activists and advocates who are new to using international human rights mechanisms. This section will help you find, understand, and apply international human rights standards to the issues you work on.

Corporate War Crimes: Prosecuting Pillage of Natural Resources

Related to the question of the litigation against the corporations, I would like to share information about one of the newest Open Society Foundations publication: Corporate War Crimes: Prosecuting Pillage of Natural Resources, it is available at

Corporate War Crimes seeks to guide investigative bodies, war crimes prosecutors, and judges engaged with the technicalities of pillage. It should also be useful for advocates, political institutions, and companies interested in curbing resource wars.

Corporate War Crimes: Prosecuting Pillage of Natural Resources

Hey Masha,

thanks for sharing the reference - it's a useful guide and the format is user friendly, which should encourage legislators and officials to read it. The author, James G. Stewart, organised an excellent conference here in The Hague this last weekend in order to explain the contents and allow others to publicly comment on it. It's worth noting that in at least one respect the handbook departs from the definition of pillage as set out in the Elements of Crimes to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (with respect to whether pillage has to be carried out for personal or private motives. See also the discussion on the applicable mens rea standard, which arguably differs from the Elements of Crimes). The handbook provides sound reasons for its conclusions but it will nonetheless be useful to be aware of these differences if working on projects with domestic authorities concerning the prosecution of pillage. Let's hope the handbook is widely read.

Matthew Gillett for the Peace and Justice Initiative

Guide for national implementation of humanitarian law (ICRC)

The ICRC has developed resources for practitioners working to bring international humanitarian law (laws of war) to their country. On this webpage, you'll find many reports, guides, events and a database of case law examples:

National Implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the ICRC Advisory Service: What national implementation of international humanitarian law means and how the ICRC encourages States to adopt the required legislation.

Global campaign for pre-trial justice

Might be of interest for colleagues -an initiative on pre-trial justice that connects international and domestic law. 

The Open Society Justice Initiative launched in 2009 a Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice to promote alternatives to pretrial detention, expand access to legal aid services, and deploy paralegals to intervene earlier in the criminal justice process. The relevant information can be found at

PJI's experience

In PJI's experience, we've discovered the importance of making use of civil society consultations and influencing policy-making in international and regional bodies. Our particular example concerns the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) - Its mandate is to ensure that fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected and it does so by collecting evidence about the situation of fundamental rights across the EU and provides evidence-based advice about how to improve the situation.

The FRA has set up a Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP), The FRP, of which PJI is a member, is a network of NGOs and civil society organisations, which are consulted on issues such as shaping the FRA's future terms of reference for projects, assisting in finding practical solutions to problems encountered and shaping the future agenda of the Agency. The advantage of being involved in such regional initiatives is that the impact is exponentially greater - in this case in respect of all EU member states.

A new generation of hope

Several comments throughout different threads have mentioned the need for education. In this field, this often refers to the training of professionals. As I previously mentioned, that is a critical component for change. What is not often discussed is the additional piece of educating our children about human rights. If we are looking for a cultural paradigm shift, there is no better place to start than the classroom. Human rights education (HRE) is a relatively nascent discipline, but many other countries are solidly ahead of the United States in finding ways to implement human rights curricula in schools. In addition to helping shape a future public consciousness, studies have shown a range of positive short-term results from such instruction, as well. (See a case study of students in the United Kingdom and Canada.)

For teachers or administrators looking for lesson plans, curricula, or trainings, please There are a lot of great resources to start this kind of programming, and The Advocates has compiled several other resources from a variety of organizations online, as well.

A particular sub-set of human rights education is peace education, and The Advocates has a curriculum dedicated to conflict resolution and transitional justice called The Road to Peace. This curriculum provides students an opportunity to study root causes of conflict and practical strategies for conflict resolution on every level - from peer-to-peer relationships to case studies of countries emerging from civil war.

I think the investment of educating children on human rights is one that should be considered seriously by advocates, and we would certainly appreciate knowing of other current HRE initiatives around the world.

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