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.
The Advocactes for Human Rights (formerly known as the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights) uses traditional human rights monitoring methods to document human rights abuses. The group has also made a practice of adapting this methodology to emerging human rights issues. Minnesota Advocates has identified and developed practical and sustainable strategies for adapting human rights monitoring methods to address domestic violence (in Eastern Europe and the U.S.), child survival (in Mexico, Uganda and the U.S.) and transitional justice (in Peru).
Human rights activists as well as the museum community can make effective use of the spatial impact of historic sites to help educate people about social change and human rights. The Tenement Museum in New York City has joined with more than a dozen other institutions that have focused their attention on “sites of conscience”—places where terrible human rights abuse has occurred that should never be forgotten. Their goal is not only to remember the past, but also to use the emotional power of these places to catalyze critical thinking about the ongoing social issues of today, through dialogue and educational activities.
FoodFirst Information and Action Network (Germany) applied their influence on large mining operations that were causing various human rights abuses, by putting pressure on banks and other financial institutions that invest in those mines. This case study provides a thorough analysis of the kinds of research and pressure tactics that can provide an important new source of leverage for communities that are trying to counter the damage that can be caused by huge corporate projects on or near their land.
Forensic science has been a powerful tool in the scientific documentation of human rights violations around the world, and especially in Latin America. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team has been in the forefront of efforts to train human rights NGOs to use forensic tools to advance their investigations, to provide more support for victims and to strengthen the credibility of their work against impunity.
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 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.
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.
Budgets are used everywhere—from local agencies, to non-governmental organizations, to governments and international bodies. They provide a concrete tool for evaluating how programs and policies actually fulfill their financial and legal obligations.