United States

Using Living Newspapers to bring world events into the classroom

The Living Newspaper Project is an innovative program to reinvigorate civic education through the dramatization of contemporary human rights issues. The current project builds on the United States Federal Theater project, created under the 1930s New Deal to put unemployed researchers, journalists and performers to work creating theater pieces about events of the day.

Uniting grassroots organizations with specialists to challenge World Bank policies

In 1999, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) successfully pressured the World Bank to end its funding to China’s Western Poverty Reduction Project through a two-pronged approach of mobilizing at the grassroots level to lobby the U.S. government and convincing Washington specialists to draft a claim to the World Bank investigation panel listing the internal policy violations.

Supporting non-governmental organizations in their use of international mechanisms to press government for change

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is a powerful legal instrument for articulating, advocating for, and monitoring women’s human rights. International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) offers assistance to women’s rights NGOs in order to help them better advocate at the international level.

Reframing poverty as a human rights issue to maintain government assistance

The Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) reframes the welfare debate as part of a larger fight for human rights in order to advocate for the maintenance of welfare services.

In 1991, welfare cuts threatened the livelihoods of poor families and communities in the most impoverished district of Pennsylvania. A group of women from this area came together and organized KWRU in order to present welfare as a human rights issue, rather than an issue of personal responsibility for poverty or charity-based government responses.

Monitoring police conduct through personal observation

In response to the rising incidence of police abuse in Berkeley, COPWATCH was started in 1990 to observe and document police activities and interactions with the community.  The program also serves as a reminder to the police that the community will hold them accountable for their actions and provides a way for people to participate in their community.  COPWATCH organizes citizen patrols that cover the streets of Berkeley.  The patrols are comprised of pairs of volunteers who walk the streets for a shift (usually of a few hours), keeping an eye out for police activities.

Instituting a community-level truth and reconciliation commission to address racial divisions

The community of Greensboro, North Carolina hosted a unique Truth and Reconciliation Commission, developed as an act of society rather than the government, and has been the only Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the United States. Community survivors and activists saw a need for action beyond the legal system; they wanted to alleviate the pain harbored in victims, and address the racial hatred enduring in others.

Filing a civil tort action against a multi-national organization to seek redress of human rights abuses that occurred as a result of a business

A group of Burmese laborers who were forced to work on a pipeline project in Myanmar successfully filed suit against two co-venturers in the pipeline project, Unocal and Total.  They claim that the two transnational corporations knew and profited from the fact that the military of Myanmar was using violence and intimidation to relocate villages, enslave farmers, commit rape and other torture, steal land and force persons to work on the pipeline.

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