Tactic Case Studies

Tactic case studies provide first-person, detailed information on the use of a tactic and how it may be adapted to other situations.

The authors -- from diverse walks of life and human rights issue areas -- recount their personal experiences in these detailed tactical notebooks. Although their backgrounds and situations differ, all used innovative tactics to help address an urgent human rights situation. Read these case studies to learn how a tactic was actually implemented, what factors influenced its use, and the challenges that surfaced along the way. We hope these examples of how tactics were used in sometimes dangerous, real-life situations will help you think tactically, to consider adapting these tactics to your own context, and adding these tactics to your own tactical repertoire.


A Story of Success: Protecting the Endangered Child Campaign

The Association of Medicine Students and Interns (Associa-Med) focuses on human rights, health and humanitarian issues, outreach activities and equipping medical students with the tools necessary to their future careers and as leaders in society. Members of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace (SCORP) within Associa-Med attended New Tactics in Human Rights’ Strategic Effectiveness Method training and subsequently developed an advocacy campaign focused on protecting endangered children by reinforcing the need for doctors to report abuse cases.

A Story of Success: The Campaign to Ban Torture and the Accountability Coalition

The United States’ use of torture and cruelty in post-9/11 counterterrorism operations spurred U.S. human rights and civil liberties organizations to form powerful coalitions that fought for a reversal of this misguided policy. The New Tactics in Human Rights Strategic Effectiveness method was one tool used to by these groups to collectively move their work forward. 

The Human Rights Education Program for Women in Turkey

Women participating in the human rights education programWomen for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR)-New Ways in Turkey gained the support and use of government resources for furthering human rights education of women at the local level. WWHR-New Ways developed a highly successful human rights education curriculum for women.  They developed a partnership with government run, local level community centers, these community centers offered not only professional social workers who could be trained by WWHR-New Ways in facilitating the human rights education curriculum, but also a safe and accessible place for women to learn about their rights.

Familiar Tools, Emerging Issues: Adapting traditional human rights monitoring to emerging issues

Researchers during an interviewThe Advocactes for Human Rights (formerly known as the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights) uses traditional human rights monitoring methods to document human rights abuses.  The group has also made a practice of adapting this methodology to emerging human rights issues. Minnesota Advocates has identified and developed practical and sustainable strategies for adapting human rights monitoring methods to address domestic violence (in Eastern Europe and the U.S.), child survival (in Mexico, Uganda and the U.S.) and transitional justice (in Peru).

The Power of Place: How historic sites can engage citizens in human rights issues

Someone working on a large mapHuman rights activists as well as the museum community can make effective use of the spatial impact of historic sites to help educate people about social change and human rights. The Tenement Museum in New York City has joined with more than a dozen other institutions that have focused their attention on “sites of conscience”—places where terrible human rights abuse has occurred that should never be forgotten. Their goal is not only to remember the past, but also to use the emotional power of these places to catalyze critical thinking about the ongoing social issues of today, through dialogue and educational activities.

The Dilemma Demonstration: Using nonviolent civil disobedience to put the government between a rock and a hard place

Man with a keyWhen the Canadian government refused to make public draft documents in their negotiations over the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, Operation SalAMI organized hundreds of citizens to show up holding “Search and Rescue Warrants” for the release of these draft documents. The government responded by arresting one hundred citizens for requesting their right to information.

Society as Mediator for Conflict Resolution: Elkarri’s Peace Conference

An audience of people listening to a speakerElkarri, a group based in the Basque Region, has used a form of dialogue they call social mediation to encourage the broadest possible participation from all arenas of society to discuss solutions to the conflict. Community members were given a broad choice of ways to get involved: from signing a petition to becoming a member to participating in and organizing discussion groups. But however people chose to participate, they learned that they had a role to play in mediating the conflict that affected their lives and created pressure on the groups in conflict to make steps toward seeking peaceful resolution.

Side by Side: Protecting and encouraging threatened activists with unarmed international accompaniment

A volunteer working with a human rights defenderSince the mid-1980s, human rights groups and other activist organizations being targeted with repressive abuses have been calling on international NGOs to provide them with direct accompaniment by international field workers. These field workers — usually volunteers — spend twenty-four hours a day with threatened activists, at the premises of threatened organizations, in threatened communities or witnessing public events organized by threatened groups. The international presence serves as a deterrent against the use of violence. In order to ensure this deterrence, these international accompaniment organizations are part of transnational networks poised and ready to mobilize political pressure against perpetrators should their volunteers witness any attacks or should their clients be further threatened.

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