Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in more than 200 countries come together for a global letter writing marathon for human rights.
This tactic provides a pathway for victims of severe abuses perpetrated against them to seek justice denied them in their home country. Although it may require considerable time, the application of universal jurisdiction is gaining recognition by countries around the world as an effective way to internationally combat impunity. Universal jurisdiction is a legal principle of international law that allows national courts to prosecute such crimes regardless of where they occurred or the nationality of the perpetrator or victim.
Everyone has the right to music, both as a mechanism of expression and enjoyment. Freemuse, a Copenhagen-based international organization, established March 3rd as Music Freedom Day, in order to advocate for musicians’ right to freedom of expression; to carry out their craft without fear of oppression, imprisonment, or censorship. Since 2007, when Music Freedom Day was launched, more than 100 partners and collaborators in 36 countries have joined the annual event.
Public gatherings or rallies have long been used as a form of protest against autocratic regimes or to draw attention to a particular issue, cause or inequity. Communication through modern technology has made it easier to mobilize people into participating in mass global protests. The main intent behind a mass protest on a global scale is to draw international attention on a particular issue. The following mass global protests provide examples highlighting this tactic to advance such diverse issues as climate change, inequality, and electoral reform.
Time Out Tel Aviv created a video, ‘Jews and Arabs Kiss,’ to protest the banning of an Israeli-Palestinian love story in Israeli high schools. Through creating dialogue, this video served the dual purpose to demonstrate ideology and protest censorship.
When addressing human rights violations in a public reconciliation process, it’s important to make the process comfortable for victims who testify. One tactic is “accompaniment” of victims by volunteers trained in psychosocial support and the practical realities of the process. The goal is to give victims an empowering experience that helps their healing and does not contribute to re-traumatization.
To address gross human rights violations committed during apartheid, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was initiated by legislation in 1995. Their mandate was to document violations committed by state bodies or armed opposition, to promote national unity and reconciliation, and to offer policy reforms to prevent future abuses. In addition to amnesty and human rights hearings, special hearings were held, focused on abuses suffered by women and children. These hearings were held around the country and were covered extensively by all media.
Ujamaa Africa with its No Means No Worldwide curriculum reduces the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya by empowering high school girls with self-defense tactics.
Mexican citizen and journalist, Epigmenio Ibarra, created tumblr blog #IllustradoresConAyotzinapa which combines social media and artistic illustrations of 43 disappeared college students to sustain awareness of their disappearances and to memorialize their individual lives.
The Peaceful Elections Initiative (INAMA) organizes citizen reporters who use text messaging to monitor local tensions and violent outbreaks leading up to elections and to prevent dishonesty during elections.
Kituo Cha Sheria (Legal Advice Centre) helps to empower prisoners to advocate for themselves by providing legal education in Kenyan prisons.
Issues of poverty, marginalization, and vulnerability affect people’s access to justice. Kituo Cha Sheria, founded in 1973 by a small group of legal professionals, works to combat this lack of access by providing free education to the most marginalized communities, particularly prison inmates. In Kenya, the ratio of legal practitioners to the population is 1 to 5,000, so these services are desperately needed.