Building Capacity

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.

Building corporate capacity to create constructive relationships based on a respect for indigenous people's rights

Corporate accountability for abuse of indigenous peoples and their resources has emerged a significant target area of human rights activism. At the same time, opportunities and pressures for development will inevitably continue to produce contentious relationships between extractive industries and indigenous communities. Recognizing the need for establishing constructive dialogue, First People’s Worldwide (FPW) focuses on building and supporting positive, human rights-focused relationships between indigenous interests and the business sector.

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

Building local capacity for trauma-focused mental health services through an intensive training model

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) trains refugees as peer counselors in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The refu­gees provide mental health services to others who have suffered torture and war trauma, increasing the number of people CVT can serve and creating a cadre of qualified mental health paraprofessionals in communities that had previously had no mental health services. Paraprofessionals perform many of the tasks of professionals, but within a system of supervision.

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

Creating a professional organization that provides support and training to build professionalism among law enforcement personnel

The Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LINLEA) promotes professionalism among law enforcement personnel. LINLEA advances the perspective that law enforcement officers should be the leading human rights protectors and promoters, as prescribed by the law enforcement code of ethics and canons of police ethics. These codes challenge officers to respect the constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice.

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.

Creating a network of volunteer monitors to persuade local and national governments to abide by international human rights commitments

The League of Human Rights Advocates (LHRA) in Slovakia has developed a network of volunteer human rights monitors within the minority Roma population to ensure that international human rights treaties are implement­ed at the local level. As part of its work to become a member of the European Union, Slovakia ratified a number of treaties relating to human rights and was vulnerable to criticism of their human rights record. In addition, the constitution of the Slovak Republic gives priority, over domestic laws, to international human rights treaties rati­fied and passed into law by its parliament.

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

Utilizing an information specialist and systems to help human rights advocates work more effectively

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Sarajevo focuses on improving access to information for human rights advocates. Staff members have built a strong information system and a central role for an information specialist. Use of this system and of the specialist’s skills has allowed other staff to better and more productively focus on their core programmatic missions.

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

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