Tactics

Are you looking for ideas and inspiration on how you can achieve your human rights goals? Then you’re in the right place. Below, we have over 220 examples of successful human rights tactics.

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Teaching people in rural areas about their rights and connecting them to lawyers to defend those rights

The Thongbai Thongpao Foundation (TTF) in Thailand brings free legal assistance to rural residents, along with training on basic human rights and laws affecting their daily lives. While Thailand enjoyed rapid economic growth in the 1990s, much of the improved standard of living was concentrated in metropolitan areas. Rural populations lag behind economically and have little awareness of the rights guaranteed by modern Thai law. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by corrupt officials and moneylenders.

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.

Raising public awareness of impunity through a referendum or petition drive

Using a constitutional provision that had never been invoked, Comisión Nacional Pro-Referéndum (CNR) orga­nized a referendum in Uruguay, so that the public could vote on the congressional decision to grant impunity to human rights abusers employed by the military. In order to petition the government to hold a popular referendum, CNR needed, within one year of the impunity law’s passage, to collect the signatures of 25 percent of citizens who were qualified to vote.

Publicly exposing abusers through targeted demonstrations

Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio (Children for Identity and Justice Against Forget­fulness and Silence, or H.I.J.O.S) organizes targeted demonstrations in front of the homes of people who have been identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses. These demonstrations, called escraches (“unmaskings”), publicly expose the abusers and allow communities to express their moral condemnation.

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.

Protecting cultural and economic rights of indigenous people by recording traditional ecological knowledge

The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has created an online searchable database of traditional ecological knowledge to prevent private companies from patenting that knowledge. The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Prior Art Database (T.E.K.*P.A.D.) is located at ip.aaas.org/tekpad.

Promoting justice by leveraging the legal rights to access victims’ records

The Centro de Documentación y Archivo (CDyA) opened police files to the public after the country’s 35-year military dictatorship.

The constitution of Paraguay, like the constitutions of five other Latin American countries, includes the right of habeas data: the right of former prisoners to control data collected about them and their experiences. After filing a petition to obtain his own file, Martin Almada, a former political prisoner, accompanied by a local judge, found thousands of detention files in a police station in Lambare in 1992.

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.

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