Building Awareness

Offering loans with favorable terms to small-busi­ness owners with the condition that they not use child labor

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) administers the Micro Enterprise Lending and Assis­tance (MELA) program, which offers loans with favorable terms to small businesses that would not normally be able to secure funds, on the condition that they agree not to use child labor.

Maintaining a physical presence at the site of potential abuse to monitor and prevent human rights violations

Machsom Watch monitors several Israeli checkpoints every morning and afternoon during the periods of highest traffic to protest the checkpoints and to protect the rights of individual Palestinians who must pass through them. All of the volunteers for Machsom Watch (machsom means checkpoint in Hebrew) are Israeli women. The organization began in January 2001 with three women and has since grown to 300 volunteers.

Involving religious leaders in modeling behavior toward stigmatized populations

The Sangha Metta project trains Buddhist monks, nuns and novices to provide practical and spiritual assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and to fight the myths, misconceptions and stigma surrounding the disease. The program now exists in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Bhutan, Vietnam, China and Mongolia and receives aid from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), AusAID, the Open Society Institute and the Burma Project.
 

Informing potential victims of their rights when there is a time limit on protecting their rights

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) in Ontario, Canada, contacts tenants at risk of eviction and gives them the information they need to avoid eviction. Canadian law limits to five days the time tenants have to dispute evictions, and many people do not have the information or resources to react quickly enough to prevent eviction.

Independently collecting air-quality data on the community level in order to pressure for change

Many communities across the United States have begun or joined “bucket brigades,” programs that teach people living near industrial polluters to build and use simple air monitoring devices, or “buckets,” which have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the absence of strong environmental laws, standards or enforcement bodies, buckets give communities the means to independently monitor the air quality of their neighborhoods and provide them with evidence to pressure for change.

Holding an international tribunal to raise awareness of and seek reparations for sexual war crimes

The Violence Against Women in War Network, Japan (VAWW-NET) created a tribunal to acknowledge and seek justice for victims of sexual war crimes. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Japanese government created a system of sexual slavery through a network of “comfort stations,” brothel facilities controlled by the military. An estimated 400,000 women and girls were forced into the system. For close to 50 years the atrocity remained behind a veil of silence.

Establishing a formal truth commission to investigate and acknowledge gross human rights violations

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was initiated by national legislation in 1995, after a period of public debate. Its mandate was to collect information about gross human rights violations committed by state bodies or the armed opposition during apartheid and its goal was to promote national unity and reconcili­ation. The Commission was expected to offer suggestions for policy reforms to prevent future abuses. In addition to amnesty and human rights hearings, special hearings focused on abuses suffered by women and children and others were held on the role of faith communities, the medical establishment, the legal sector, the business com­munity and other institutions that had passively or actively contributed to rights violations.

For more information on the "victim accompaniment" tactic within the context of the South African TRC, read our in-depth case study.

Encouraging local governments, organizations and individuals to oppose, through the use of education and resources, federal legislation that endangers human rights

In the United States, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) creates tools and resources to help local advocates of the Bill of Rights educate members of local governments and communities about how federal anti­terrorism legislation and policies violate their rights. Many of the local groups work with their city, town or county governments to formally register opposition to violations of civil liberties, passing resolutions or ordinances up­holding the Bill of Rights.

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