Resistance

Engaging religious leaders in a conversation about inclusion, and implementing non-violent direct action tactics

Soulforce Inc. uses dialogue and non-violent direct action to make local and national religious institutions more inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members. GLBT members carry out this work, attempting to engage religious leaders in a conversation about inclusion, and creating non-violent direct action tactics when negotiations fail.

Encouraging passage of local government resolutions to influence national policy

Prior to 2003, Cities for Peace, a coalition of local elected officials and concerned community members, worked to get City Councils and other civic bodies to pass resolutions against a US led war on Iraq. Although the group focuses on the anti-war effort, this tactic has also been used to show local opposition to a variety of federal actions, such as investment in apartheid and the curtailment of civil liberties under the Patriot Act (2001).

Developing electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice

MoveOn creates electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice. It is a grassroots organization aimed at involving ordinary people in politics in order to narrow the gap between public opinion and legislative action. With a network of over 600,000 “online activists,” MoveOn helps busy but concerned citizens find their political voice by organizing “electronic advocacy groups” around issues such as campaign finance, environmental and energy issues, impeachment, gun safety, and nuclear disarmament.

Using an expropriation law to ensure economic rights are protected

Workers in Argentina have tried to prevent job losses by refusing to stop working when their employers’ business­es go bankrupt. Jobs at nearly 200 fabricas recuperadas, or recuperated factories, have been saved by workers who use a little-known expropriation law to prevent removal of equipment by creditors and to seek receivership of the factories. The businesses range from ice cream factories and metal works to four-star hotels and shipyards.

Settling landless people on unfarmed land to pressure the government to carry out land reforms

Since its creation in 1984, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST) has addressed the issue of land reform by organizing large groups of landless farmers to settle and farm unused land belonging to wealthy landowners. After occupying an area MST attempts to gain the land legally through petitioning and legislation, using an article in the Brazilian constitution stating that unproductive land is available for agrarian reform.

Raising public awareness of impunity through a referendum or petition drive

Using a constitutional provision that had never been invoked, Comisión Nacional Pro-Referéndum (CNR) orga­nized a referendum in Uruguay, so that the public could vote on the congressional decision to grant impunity to human rights abusers employed by the military. In order to petition the government to hold a popular referendum, CNR needed, within one year of the impunity law’s passage, to collect the signatures of 25 percent of citizens who were qualified to vote.

Protecting cultural and economic rights of indigenous people by recording traditional ecological knowledge

The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has created an online searchable database of traditional ecological knowledge to prevent private companies from patenting that knowledge. The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Prior Art Database (T.E.K.*P.A.D.) is located at ip.aaas.org/tekpad.

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.

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.

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