Changing Minds

Using a popular referendum to oppose impunity

The Comisión Nacional Pro-Referéndum (CNR) organized a referendum in Uruguay for the public to vote on the congressional decision to grant impunity to human rights abusers employed by the military.

Nearly every Uruguayan was affected by human rights abuses during the brutal dictatorship from 1973 to 1984. During that time many political dissidents were watched, tortured, and killed. The military and police detained 55,000 people (1 in 50 of the total population) and 300,000 people went into exile either out of fear or because of the rapidly deteriorating economy.

Using a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) tool to inform and assess external policy measures

The Humanist Committee on Human Rights (HOM) in the Netherlands is developing a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) tool to assist governments and other policy-making bodies in the systematic translation of general objectives into priorities and action on human rights and democratic development.  

The HRIA contains eight levels of procedural implementation that allow stakeholders to assess and forecast the impact of policy, programs and projects on human rights situations and apply retrospective analysis on existing practices.  

Using a code of conduct to protect labor rights in the garment industry

The Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) engages industry, retailers and consumers to promote the rights of garment workers.

The CCC is a consortium of European trade unions and human rights and development organizations formed in the Netherlands in 1990 as a result of increased awareness of poor working conditions in factories worldwide. The CCC is attempting to change this situation by targeting the garment and sportswear industries and raising consumer awareness.

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.

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.

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