Tactics

Using the arts to connect human rights to local culture and tradition

The Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in Egypt uses arts and literature to demonstrate that human rights are, and have long been, celebrated in Arab cultures. Although many Arab states supported the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), several have since portrayed the UDHR, and human rights protection more generally, as a Western concept.

Using people with direct experience and knowledge to rescue victims of abuse

Senior sex workers play an important role in the sex trade. Most are madams or rent rooms to prostitutes who stay in the brothel. They have more spare time than younger workers and they also have a deeper knowledge of the industry. Their position of economic power within the brothels offers these senior sex workers a unique ability to influence who can be in the brothels and when they rent quarters to younger prostitutes they clarify that no under­age girls are allowed.

Using national laws to bring to justice those who perpetrate crimes against humanity in other countries

The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) uses the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) to bring legal cases against multinational corporations complicit in human rights abuses. Dating to 1789 and created to address and prevent piracy, the ATCA is a United States federal statute allowing foreign nationals to bring civil actions against U.S. citizens and corporations for violations of international law.

Using mobile phones to create a network of communication that can stop violence before it escalates

Interaction Belfast (formerly known as Springfield Inter-Community Development Project) created a mobile phone network to prevent outbreaks of violence between volatile neighborhoods in Belfast. Volunteers in both Catholic and Protestant communities are given mobile phones to communicate with their counterparts across the interface when potentially violent crowds gather or when rumors of violence start to spread.

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.

Using a nomination campaign to identify new potential allies for human rights

Domestic violence is an issue that affects the lives of men, women and children, yet it is often seen solely as a women’s issue. A group in South Africa uses a unique tactic to get men involved in curbing domestic violence.

The Everyday Hero Campaign of the 5-in-6 Project in South Africa asks women to identify men with a positive at­titude toward women and then invites these men to become new advocates for women’s rights.

Training victims of human rights abuses to use video technology to expose those abuses

Based in Hungary and Romania, the Black Box Foundation works to improve attitudes towards the Roma minority by training them in the production of television programs for local channels. The Foundation creates production teams, trains them in video production, secures airtime and sees that programs are exchanged between teams.

Training organizations to place their social justice work into the context of human rights, thereby providing advocates with a new set of tools and access to new alliances

The National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) trains organizations in the United States to frame social justice issues as human rights issues. While many organizations in the United States work on social issues, few think of their work in terms of human rights.

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