Changing Minds

Presenting shareholder resolutions to press companies to adopt more socially responsible business practices, including comprehensive human rights policies and practices

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional inves­tors in North America, promotes shareholder resolutions to change unjust or harmful corporate policies and practices. As of 2003, the current combined portfolio of ICCR member organizations was estimated at about $110 billion.

Organizing mock tribunals to raise awareness of human rights abuses and influence public policy

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, along with the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, organized the first National Tribunal on Violence against Women. Held in March 2002 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capi­tal, the tribunal was unofficial and not legally binding, but the testimony was real. Thirty-three women testified, sharing their experiences in order to help the public learn about the abuses suffered by women in their homes, in their communities and at the hands of the government, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape and female genital mutilation.

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

Offering loans with favorable terms to small-busi­ness owners with the condition that they not use child labor

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) administers the Micro Enterprise Lending and Assis­tance (MELA) program, which offers loans with favorable terms to small businesses that would not normally be able to secure funds, on the condition that they agree not to use child labor.

Maintaining a physical presence at the site of potential abuse to monitor and prevent human rights violations

Machsom Watch monitors several Israeli checkpoints every morning and afternoon during the periods of highest traffic to protest the checkpoints, and to protect the rights of individual Palestinians who must pass through them. All of the volunteers for Machsom Watch (machsom means checkpoint in Hebrew) are Israeli women. The organization began in January 2001 with three women and has since grown to 300 volunteers.

Involving religious leaders in modeling behavior toward stigmatized populations

The Sangha Metta project trains Buddhist monks, nuns and novices to provide practical and spiritual assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and to fight the myths, misconceptions and stigma surrounding the disease. The program now exists in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Bhutan, Vietnam, China and Mongolia and receives aid from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), AusAID, the Open Society Institute and the Burma Project.
 

Independently collecting air-quality data on the community level in order to pressure for change

Many communities across the United States have begun or joined “bucket brigades” programs that teach people living near industrial polluters to build and use simple air monitoring devices, or “buckets,” which have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the absence of strong environmental laws, standards or enforcement bodies, buckets give communities the means to independently monitor the air quality of their neighborhoods and provide them with evidence to pressure for change.

Creating a market to support fairly produced products

The Rugmark label, now known as GoodWeave, has become a known trademark to identify and promote hand-knotted carpets made without child labor. GoodWeave awards licenses to carpet exporters who agree not to use child labor, and who voluntarily submit to a monitoring system that includes surprise inspections and cross-checking of export records and looms. Children who are found to be illegally working during inspections are rehabilitated and schooled by GoodWeave.

Creating a long-term public forum where the police and ordinary citizens can work together to resolve human rights grievances and other issues affecting police/community relations

The CLEEN Foundation, formally the Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria, hosts public forums where citizens and police can discuss concerns and grievances regarding crime and police conduct.

Communities and police forces can find themselves in an unproductive cycle of distrust. Community members are concerned about police misconduct, brutality, and corruption. The police, in turn, can see the community as hostile and uncooperative in their investigations.

Using street conferences to raise awareness around civilians being sent to military trials

No To Military Trials uses “street conferences” to raise awareness around the issue of using military trials against civilian populations in Egypt. A street conference is a public gathering in a public space to raise awareness about a specific issue by providing testimony from victims affected by the issue. The goal of this tactic is to bring the issue to the public in a new way, beyond what is discussed in traditional avenues like the mainstream media.

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