Plans for 2014 conversation themes and topics

In November of 2013, we asked the community to help us prioritize conversation themes for 2014. We wanted to know which themes would be the most relevant to your work in the coming year. We heard from 86 of you and 4 most popular themes that you selected were:

  1. Mobilizing Allies - Among the most critical work of human rights practitioners is the effort to mobilize your allies by building strategic alliances and coalitions. Building alliances – especially with unexpected partners – can strengthen the efforts of human rights advocates in unexpected ways. Building relationships with groups outside the usual sectors lends credibility to your cause and attracts new audiences. Reaching across international borders builds alliances that are stronger, more flexible, and have additional political clout. Strategic collaboration and coalition-building can make advocates more prepared, more powerful and more representative of the communities they serve. When groups are no longer working in isolation, they can enhance their legitimacy with media, the public, and government.
  2. Seeking Justice - After human rights violations have taken place, there is often a strong motivation to seek justice for victims. Many groups around the world have been working at the local, national and international levels to bring perpetrators to justice, demand acknowledgement of crimes, and secure compensation for victims. Through tactics of redress, societies can begin to come to terms with past human rights abuses and send a message to future perpetrators that they will be brought to justice.
  3. Changing Minds - Tactics to influence the opinions and actions of decision-makers in society and institutions can offer a powerful avenue for social and cultural change. Many of those involved in carrying out or supporting human rights abuses can be motivated to change course voluntarily. Consumers or shareholders can provide incentives to businesses to correct unfair labor practices; community leaders can transform and replace discriminatory cultural traditions with new, inclusive ones; public officials can be introduced to models of governance that strengthen human rights protections and broaden participation. These tactics may take time, and often involve working behind the scenes to negotiate and promote ongoing dialogue with those who sustain or are responsible for human rights abuses.
  4. Building Awareness - Educating individuals and communities about human rights issues is critical to generate interest and involvement in human rights movements. Tactics to build awareness range from street theater and public art to media engagement and video activism. While helping to develop new allies for your cause, these tactics provide an essential starting point for public dialogue about human rights, and focus attention on those responsible for human rights crimes.

Excellent choices!


How will these themes translate into a plan for our 2014 online conversations? Here's what I'm thinking:

January thru March we'll focus on Mobilizing Allies. From another survey, we've identified a few specific topics that would be of interest to the community.

April thru June we'll focus on Seeking Justice. We've posted the results of a survey where we asked for your input on which topics we should prioritize. The more popular topics are:

  1. Using video and images for evidence / Collecting evidence of human rights violations
  2. Tactics to uncover the truth
  3. Technology in transitional justice
  4. Engaging regional human rights mechanisms
  5. Documenting and archiving records of events

July thru September we'll focus on Changing Minds. I'll post a survey with topic ideas in the next few months. But if you have ideas, please contact us!

October thru December we'll focus on Building Awareness. I'll post a survey with topic ideas in the next few months. But if you have ideas, please contact us!

I look forward to this year of community discussions, especially because the themes and topics are being prioritized by you. Thank you for your participation in the discussion and in the planning process! I'll update this post as more information in confirmed.


In our Arabic-language community, the two themes selected by the community were: Building Awareness and Protecting Human Rights Defenders. For more information, visit our Arabic website.

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder