Building Awareness

Pairing police with refugees and migrants to develop understanding and reduce discrimination

In 1999, the International Centre for Cultures and Languages (Internationales Zentrum für Kulturen und Sprachen) in Austria developed a program that pairs police officers with an immigrant or refugee to foster positive relations between the police force and the foreign-born population. While educating the officers about citizens who they may have held negative stereotypes about, this program also gives the refugees and immigrants an opportunity to communicate with the officers about racial profiling and other racial issues.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Training victims of human rights abuses to monitor and defend their rights

The Network of Community Human Rights Defenders (Red de Defensores Comunitarios por los Derechos Humanos) trains young indigenous community members in Mexico to monitor and defend their human rights. Defenders are trained through monthly seminars about the theories and concepts of human rights work as well as the practical skills needed to ensure human rights violations are documented, reported and prevented. They are then able to respond to human rights violations in their communities, which are often far from big cities and large non-governmental organizations that support human rights.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using petitions to gain public support for a government peace process

Beginning in 2001 Elkarri held a massive signature drive in which they asked people to sign a document demanding the initiation of a dialogue of peace between all parties in the Basque region. Since its inception, Elkarri had been building a database of people who wanted to be involved with their activities, so in addition to collecting signatures at their events, they also contacted these people for their support. Elkarri also asked each person for a donation of about US$7 and to volunteer their time. To date 123,000 citizens have signed the petition, 10,000 people have become Elkarri volunteers, and over US$200,000 has been donated. In addition, representatives of all political parties, except the Partido Popular of Spain, have signed the document.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating people’s platforms (public hearings) where citizens can publicly challenge officials on the difference between promises and reality

MKSS activists and area residents investigate allegations of corruption in villages or districts, often at the initiative of local residents who feel they have been cheated or abused. At the village council or at higher levels of government they request copies of relevant official records. Once obtained, the accounts are cross-checked through site visits and interviews with villagers. MKSS then holds a public hearing at which the village officials, those accused of corruption, and community members can discuss the issue.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using participatory research to advance children’s social and economic rights

Wona Sanana was established in 1999 to protect children’s rights by compiling information on the condition of the children of Mozambique after the 16-year civil war. The project combined data-collection on the welfare of children with community education to empower local people to take action and to promote improved policies addressing children’s rights. Through participatory research, communities learned about the problems facing their children and were encouraged to develop unique responses appropriate to the needs or their community.

For more information on "participatory research" tactics, read our in-depth case study.

Creating space to legitimize and dignify the personal experiences of victims

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Peru is one of the most recent experiences of transitional justice, institutionalized with the aim of exploring the truth hidden behind a past characterized by massive abuse of human rights. One of the central activities in this process is the Public Audiences, created with the aim of legitimizing and dignifying the personal experiences of the victims in order to support the therapeutic and recuperative work on their behalf.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Engaging local leaders to use their influence to help end abuse

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Ghana solicits the support of respected commu­nity leaders — chiefs and queen mothers — to address the problem of trokosi, a system in which women and young girls are kept in fetish shrines without their consent. Families give their girls to the shrines to atone for the sins or crimes committed by a family member, and to thereby end or reverse a family’s bad luck.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Activating historic sites as centers for citizen engagement with human rights issues

Around the world, people instinctively turn to places of memory to come to terms with the past and chart a course for the future. Memory is a critical language and terrain of human rights. These places can be a powerful and critical tool for building a lasting culture of human rights. The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience works to build the capacity of historic sites around the world to foster dialogue on pressing social issues and promote democratic and humanitarian values. It seeks to change the role of historic sites in civic life from places of passive learning to centers for active citizen engagement. Using the power of place to help communities have ongoing dialogues about the meaning of their past and the shape of their future.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Organizing a large-scale petition drive to pressure the government to change

In 2002, Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power) collected signatures on a petition that, under a constitutional provi­sion, the Argentine congress was then obligated to consider. The constitutional provision requires the congress to deliberate any proposed legislation brought before it by community members or organizations, as long as that legislation bears the signatures of 1.5 percent of Argentine citizens in at least six of 24 districts.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Promoting community policing through computer-based training

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia ) introduced a computer-based police training education program to engage and enlist the support of key leadership of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) to champion the training tool. As a tactic, the computer-based police training program provides an excellent tool to promote community policing and help police more effectively address their own immediate day-to-day policing challenges while also serving to build mutual trust, acknowledgement and support.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

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