Changing Minds

Developing electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice

MoveOn creates electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice. It is a grassroots organization aimed at involving ordinary people in politics in order to narrow the gap between public opinion and legislative action. With a network of over 600,000 “online activists,” MoveOn helps busy but concerned citizens find their political voice by organizing “electronic advocacy groups” around issues such as campaign finance, environmental and energy issues, impeachment, gun safety, and nuclear disarmament.

Using videotaped prosecution of police officers for human rights violations as an educational tool

The Turkish Police Academy uses videotaped prosecution of policemen for human rights violations to teach police academy candidates about the consequences of violating human rights. This tactic was used as part of a larger strategy in police academy human rights education for police candidates to incorporate the understanding, value and use of investigation and interrogation procedures that do not violate the human rights of the accused and prevent abuse of power.

Creating an ombudsman institution to provide recourse to victims of discrimination

In Sweden, the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) is a political institutional body that was created to allow citizens to assert their right to be protected against discrimination and to provide both advice and litigation power. The DO is one of four Ombudsman offices that are used to strengthen political and social protections for those victimized by discrimination.

Creating an assessment tool to evaluate the human rights impact of businesses

The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) has developed the Human Rights Compliance Assessment (HRCA), a tool that comprises a concrete and tangible list of factors which businesses should consider when assessing the impact of their operations on the people affected by it, whether as employees or as inhabitants of the local area. The aim of the HRCA is to provide companies with a tool to audit their practices, to identify areas where violations are likely so that these areas can be monitored, and to facilitate action to mitigate existing breaches and prevent future ones.

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

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.

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.

Teaching police officers about their role in defending human rights

The Centro de Assessoramento a Programas de Educação para a Cidadania (CAPEC, or the Center for Advising Citizenship Education Programs) provides training to police officers in Brazil to help them understand the vital role they can play as defenders of human rights. The training, which includes a wide variety of courses, empha­sizes the human rights of all citizens, including the police officers themselves. The role of police is transformed through this process, leading to improved relationships with the community and greater civic engagement.

Settling landless people on unfarmed land to pressure the government to carry out land reforms

Since its creation in 1984, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST) has addressed the issue of land reform by organizing large groups of landless farmers to settle and farm unused land belonging to wealthy landowners. After occupying an area MST attempts to gain the land legally through petitioning and legislation, using an article in the Brazilian constitution stating that unproductive land is available for agrarian reform.

Providing parents with funds that allow them to send their children to school rather than to work

The Bolsa Escola program in Brazil provides families with a monthly stipend so that children can attend school rather than working in the streets. The program, which began in the city of Brasilia, was created with the realiza­tion that the working children of today are the poor adults of tomorrow. Bolsa Escola was expanded to a federal program in 2001.

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