The Human Rights Centre at the University of Sarajevo used their resources efficiently to more effectively advance human rights work. They built a strong information system and created a central role for an information specialist or librarian. The utilization of this information system and specialist allowed other staff to better, and more productively, focus on their core programmatic missions.
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.
The Albanian Center for Human Rights (ACHR) successfully collaborated with the Albanian Ministry of Education to bring human rights education into all public schools in the country. They took advantage of the post-communist transition period, negotiating with the new democratic government officials to launch a long-term process in which they would prepare Albanian citizens to participate fully in a democracy. They focused on teaching the next generation about human rights.
Nigdy Wiêcej (Never Again) uses a number of tactics to carry out its work in Poland. Two of the tactics explained in this case study are the use of cultural resources in the community to recruit activists and the organization of activists into an information-gathering network.
Government corruption in Turkey had been an open secret. Yet, the public felt apathetic about their ability to change the situation. The Campaign of Darkness for Light gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take – simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening – and thus show their displeasure with the system. Such a simple action – a flick of the switch – and yet when people saw that their neighbors had turned off their lights, too, they felt the power of their collective voices. 30 million people turned off and on their lights to demand that the government act against corruption, soon they began to invent their own ways to speak out by gathering on the streets, marching and banging pots and pans.
The Southeast Asian Council for Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON), based in Malaysia, utilized a participatory research process in Southeast Asia not only to document and understand how free trade was affecting small scale food producers in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Cambodia and Laos but also as an effective means to inform and engage producers themselves in the process and issue. Finally, the participatory research process provided informed and concrete evidence to back their policy advocacy on trade policies in the ASEAN region.
Forum Asia worked with the Royal Thai Police to promote community-oriented and human rights friendly policing in Thailand and other countries in Asia. They utilized the introduction of a unique, computer based police training education program to engage and enlist the support of key leadership of the Royal Thai Police to champion the training tool. The computer-based police training program was a valuable tactic within their strategy serving to build mutual trust, acknowledgement and support while also helping police to more effectively address their immediate day-to-day policing challenges making the police better aware of human rights as well as more professional.
The National Working Group for Human Rights Dissemination and Promotion (NWG) in Indonesia developed a human rights education curriculum for all age levels in both public and private schools. In order to create support for instituting such a human rights curriculum that also encompassed religious educational institutions, an effective tactic was to engage key and respected agents of change—community and religious leaders as well as teachers—in the development and training of a human rights curriculum.
The Korean Women Workers Associations United (KWWAU) effectively engaged the media in their efforts to make changes to the minimum wage system in Korea. The low minimum wage had become an urgent problem, particularly among subcontract workers in South Korea. KWWAU organized a nation-wide campaign in nine cities, resulting in the first challenge to the Korean minimum wage system since its inception in 1988.
CARE-Bangladesh, through its NGO Service Delivery Program, recognized that a critical stride in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh relied upon the engagement of key stakeholders—particularly transport workers themselves, their unions, and the trucking companies which employ their services. As a result, CARE-Bangladesh was able to establish partnerships, particularly with the transport workers’ unions, in order to initiate a behavioral change program to prevent a possible HIV epidemic while also providing quality health care services to transport workers throughout the country.
Oulimata Gaye and her organization Réseau Africain pour le Développement Intégré (RADI) break the wall of silence that cloaks violence against women in Senegal. How do we begin to “repair” human rights problems when people will not speak of them? How do we make people talk about them? The tool used here is theater. At times amusing, at times sad, the sketches involve the audience, literally and metaphorically, in familiar situations.