Modeling Systems & Structures

Applying international law to gain justice for victims and combat impunity

This tactic provides a pathway for victims of severe abuses perpetrated against them to seek justice denied them in their home country. Although it may require considerable time, the application of universal jurisdiction is gaining recognition by countries around the world as an effective way to internationally combat impunity. Universal jurisdiction is a legal principle of international law that allows national courts to prosecute such crimes regardless of where they occurred or the nationality of the perpetrator or victim.

Establishing a new custom to protect girls and transform societal norms

Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.

Crowdsource mapping the presence of military figures in civilian leadership roles to build awareness and promote transparency

Egyptian organization el3askarmap combines crowdsourced research efforts and online tools to gather data and map the presence of military personnel in civilian positions within different state-run institutions such as ministries, villages, cities, economic bodies, and others.

Examining budgets to reveal social and economic inequities and persuade the government to rectify them

The Children’s Budget Unit (CBU) at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) uses national and provincial budgets to reveal whether the government is meeting its commitments in protecting the rights of children and to provide recommendations.

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

Building a coalition of a country’s human rights organiza­tions to speak with one voice against abuses

When human rights groups work together they can often do much more to promote human rights and improve a country’s human rights situation than individual groups could do on their own. The National Coordinator for Human Rights in Peru proves that this is possible even on a very large scale.

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

Using testing to prove discrimination and obtain direct evidence

NEKI uses testing to prove discrimination and obtain this direct evidence. The group identifies and trains people who are sent out as testers to replicate the actions of those who claim to have experienced discrimination. Each tester must be a reliable and objective observer and his or her profile must match that of the person who expe­rienced discrimination as much as possible. NEKI then uses the evidence collected to initiate legal proceedings against the offending business or organization.

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

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