This book, published by the Center for Victims of Torture - New Tactics in Human Rights, is a collection of 80 stories of successful tactics used for human rights work. The stories come from all over the world and range from prevention tactics to intervention tactics, restorative tactics to those that building human rights cultures and institutions.
Documentary Heritage is a program of Memoria Abierta (Open Memory), whose goal is to improve the use of and access to the documentation stored in the institutional archives of participating human rights organizations. The Documentary Heritage Program seeks to make all of the documentation related to the period of state terrorism and its present consequences accessible for research and educational purposes, thereby increasing knowledge and contributing to a social conscience about what occurred in Argentina.
Until a few years ago, there were no legal firms in Brazil that offered free services to people in need. The Pro-Bono Institute has created a new legal tradition in São Paulo, convincing major law firms to donate their legal services and connecting them with NGOs in need of legal services. The Institute has recruited about 140 lawyers and is offering a variety of free services to all kinds of NGOs, including support for important human rights cases. It has achieved a rapid change in attitude in the legal community and pro bono work has become steadily more popular.
The Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) in Hungary learned about a testing tactic from a U.S. group that had successfully proved instances of housing discrimination by sending in “testers” of different races to apply for apartments. Similar discrimination was also occurring in Hungary against the Roma population – in housing, employment, access to public spaces and public services and other areas. NEKI adapted the tactic of testing to fit into its strategy of using lawsuits to challenge human rights violations.
The ICAR Foundation mobilized public resources for a socially marginalized group – victims of torture. The Foundation recognized that many citizens had suffered torture during the communist regime, and created an organization to provide treatment and care to the thousands of torture survivors.
The League of Human Rights Advocates in Slovakia (LHRA) helps to bridge the gap between the locus of abuse and policies, laws and treaties that have been created to prevent or stop a violation. Often the discussion of these abuses and the laws or policies to prevent them exists only in high-level political and diplomatic forums.
Citizens’ Watch, a Russian nongovernmental organization, uses a collaborative tactic to engage governmental officials, who in many cases are seen as the adversary and not considered as partners. Citizens’ Watch recognized the potential for engaging bureaucrats who illustrated a level of interest in significantly advancing human rights. The author describes the unique uses of this tactic and highlights examples of cross-sectoral cooperation between a nongovernmental organization and the Russian government to advance human rights.
The Human Rights Centre at the University of Sarajevo used their resources efficiently to more effectively advance human rights work. They built a strong information system and created a central role for an information specialist or librarian. The utilization of this information system and specialist allowed other staff to better, and more productively, focus on their core programmatic missions.
Government corruption in Turkey had been an open secret. Yet, the public felt apathetic about their ability to change the situation. The Campaign of Darkness for Light gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take – simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening – and thus show their displeasure with the system. Such a simple action – a flick of the switch – and yet when people saw that their neighbors had turned off their lights, too, they felt the power of their collective voices. 30 million people turned off and on their lights to demand that the government act against corruption, soon they began to invent their own ways to speak out by gathering on the streets, marching and banging pots and pans.
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, in collaboration with the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), highlighted violations of women’s rights in Nigeria that were viewed by the public as normal or even justifiable abuse. They used a mock tribunal to change public perceptions and beliefs regarding violations against women, and changed public policy and law.