Tactics

Are you looking for ideas and inspiration on how you can achieve your human rights goals? Then you’re in the right place. Below, we have over 220 examples of successful human rights tactics.

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Organizing caravans to overcome militarization

Ruta Pacifica, a feminist, pacifist, anti-military organization in existence since 1996 organizes caravans of thousands of women in Colombia to visit regions hardest-hit by conflict. The caravans serve as a way for women from different areas to come together in support against the conflict, exchange ideas, and fight for an end to human rights abuses. As a result of the ongoing civil war in Colombia, different areas of the country have become increasingly isolated from one another, as the roads and borders between them are frequently controlled or blocked by the various armed groups. By traveling these roads, the caravans of women break through not only the physical roadblocks, but the psychological barriers of despair and isolation that allow the war to continue.

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

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.

Using forensics to identify victims’ remains and cause of death

Over the past two decades, Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense (the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, or EAAF) has identified the remains of victims of state violence. During Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976–1983), 10,000 to 30,000 people were killed or “disappeared” by the state. The EAAF’s goal is three-fold: to return victims’ remains to their families and thus aid in the healing process; to provide evidence for legal cases against the perpetrators of state violence; and to train and support the formation of other forensic teams in coun­tries that have suffered periods of violence and need to investigate the past.

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 government resources to institute women's human rights education

The Women for Women’s Rights Project (WWHR) –New Ways in Turkey gained access to institutional and financial support from the government to implement more extensive human rights education for women within community service centers. The program has been implemented in 30 Turkish provinces, in over 45 community centers, and has reached more than 4,000 women.

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.

Pairing police with refugees and migrants to develop understanding and reduce discrimination

In 1999, the International Centre for Cultures and Languages (Internationales Zentrum für Kulturen und Sprachen) in Austria developed a program that pairs police officers with an immigrant or refugee to foster positive relations between the police force and the foreign-born population. While educating the officers about citizens who they may have held negative stereotypes about, this program also gives the refugees and immigrants an opportunity to communicate with the officers about racial profiling and other racial issues.

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

Training victims of human rights abuses to monitor and defend their rights

The Network of Community Human Rights Defenders (Red de Defensores Comunitarios por los Derechos Humanos) trains young indigenous community members in Mexico to monitor and defend their human rights. Defenders are trained through monthly seminars about the theories and concepts of human rights work as well as the practical skills needed to ensure human rights violations are documented, reported and prevented. They are then able to respond to human rights violations in their communities, which are often far from big cities and large non-governmental organizations that support human rights.

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

Using petitions to gain public support for a government peace process

Beginning in 2001 Elkarri held a massive signature drive in which they asked people to sign a document demanding the initiation of a dialogue of peace between all parties in the Basque region. Since its inception, Elkarri had been building a database of people who wanted to be involved with their activities, so in addition to collecting signatures at their events, they also contacted these people for their support. Elkarri also asked each person for a donation of about US$7 and to volunteer their time. To date 123,000 citizens have signed the petition, 10,000 people have become Elkarri volunteers, and over US$200,000 has been donated. In addition, representatives of all political parties, except the Partido Popular of Spain, have signed the document.

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

Protecting and encouraging endangered human rights activists through the presence of international volunteers

Peace Brigades International (PBI) sends international observers to accompany human rights activists who are threatened by the government or paramilitary organizations. If they witness abuse, observers alert authorities in the country, their own native government and activists around the world. Knowing they can expect an international response, abusers are deterred from their planned attacks. At the same time, the accompanied activists are empowered to continue and expand their work for human rights. PBI began its work in the 1980s and currently sustains over 80 volunteers on the ground in Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and Guatemala.

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

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