Posts Tagged ‘Conectas’

Publication “Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space” focuses on local human rights defenders

February 2, 2018

This weekend I would like to share some new research on issues of civic space and human rights defenders (HRDs). The Fund for Global Human Rights has collaborated with Conectas to produce Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space, the 26th edition of Sur – International Journal on Human Rights. This is a special edition of the journal, authored predominantly by activists for activists. It documents the resistance of human rights groups during a time of increasing repression and restrictions on civil society, and offers key insights on the strategies frontline activists are using to reclaim civic space.

As you know, research about the global crackdown on civil society often focuses on how the crisis has manifested and its impacts. Little has been documented about the ways national-level civil society groups are responding to closing civic space, or the effectiveness of these responses. Moreover, international actors conduct much of the current research, and when frontline activists do produce analysis, it is often to inform the work of larger groups or to feature as case studies. Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space  helps change this. The research documents the learning of activists from 15 countries, how they have evolved their strategies to reclaim civic space, and the challenges they experienced along the way.

A letter to readers http://sur.conectas.org/en/sur-26-letter-to-the-readers/, authored by Juana Kweitel (Executive Director, Conectas Human Rights), Oliver Hudson (Editor, Sur Journal) and James Savage Program Officer of the Fund for Global Human Rights, provides insight into the special issue.

This collaboration with Conectas is a component of the Fund’s Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders Program <http://globalhumanrights.org/issues/activism-under-threat/> , a global initiative that supports human rights activists to resist the crackdown on civic space. A cornerstone of the program is to support documentation by and learning between activists.

Prior to the publication of Sur 26, with support from the Fund, Conectas brought together a dozen of the Sur 26 author-activists at a writers’ retreat in Sao Paulo. This opportunity helped the author-activists examine global and regional trends in closing space, discuss and share their strategies, review and provide feedback on each other’s texts, and reflect together on the importance of writing and documentation. The retreat enhanced and helped shape the final texts of Sur 26 while also providing a valuable space for frontline human rights defenders to collaborate on their work.

A video essay <https://youtu.be/fou-M3tb7WQ> , which was produced at the writers’ retreat, and offers a glimpse into the work explored throughout the 26th edition of Sur. Sur 26 is published in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/04/the-new-normal-rising-attacks-on-human-rights-defenders/]

http://sur.conectas.org/en/strategies-to-resist/

http://globalhumanrights.org/sur-international-journal-human-rights-issue-26/

Evaluations should allow also to find unexpected impacts of human rights work

January 15, 2016

Evaluations of human rights work should not just be results assessment, but instead, like (in line with Emma Naughton and Kevin Kelpin) as a learning process to discover un expected impacts. Muriel Asseraf in an article in Open Democracy on 22 October 2015, “Finding the unexpected impacts of human rights work“, argues just that in the context of Conectas in Brazil:

Only by understanding if advocacy strategies have been effective and why (or why not), can we understand whether it would make sense to replicate it. Last year, for the first time, Conectas and partner organizations from the Criminal Justice Network launched a large media campaign against the practice of invasive strip-searches for family members who visit their relatives in prison. The impact of the campaign was two-fold: in the state of Sao Paulo, where the campaign was launched, a law was passed to ban the practice, which in and of itself was a great victory. In addition, while not endorsing “human rights” directly, a new audience started to empathize with the situation of these women—grandmothers, mothers or daughters—who have to go through these humiliating treatments in order to visit their relatives in prison. By appealing to people’s understanding of the barbaric situation that prisoners’ relatives have to go through, as opposed to prisoners themselves, the campaign gathered unprecedented support. This impact was unexpected, and learning to identify it has helped us think about other human rights campaigns that could rally an even larger audience to our causes.

In fact, the unexpected lessons that we learn from our evaluation processes happen often. They are frequently surprising and always relevant, and they have informed our strategies and planning processes in ways both profound and constructive.

For example, another evaluation process helped us understand that Conectas’ use of international mechanisms was largely reinforced by how the international press covered the case. Resolutions and recommendations do impact official interlocutors, but if recommendations are somehow featured in international dailies, the reaction of government officials can be much more rapid….

Over time, we have raised our team’s awareness of the need to evaluate their work. Conectas now carries out rigorous planning processes: based on our five-year strategic plan, and our three-year tactical plan, our programs and areas develop annual operational plans that are reviewed twice a year during formal evaluations. The teams themselves conduct these evaluations because, as Naughton and Kelpin have also noted, they are the best suited to understand the subtleties and complexities of a particular situation, and to identify changes or unplanned impacts that others might not see.

During these evaluations, we try to consider not only the quality of the implementation of any given action—although that is also a critical part of the process—but more importantly the feedback of important stakeholders. Participants in our bi-annual Colloquium are asked to answer an opinion survey at the end of the event, as well as six months later in order to measure the impact of the event on their lives and work. Readers and contributors to the Sur Journal are also regularly questioned about how relevant and useful they find the articles for their work.

These survey results have at times been surprising, such as the finding that despite our many efforts to disseminate the print edition of the Sur Journal, the online version has a much larger following. As a result, we decided to transform it into a primarily online journal. The Colloquium surveys have also revealed important elements about the program and format of the meeting….

…. by remaining open to unexpected results, we hope to always evolve and adapt to what is around us. And we can only hope that each organization will do the same, in order to build a more complete view of the field and create more effective interventions.

Full article at: Finding the unexpected impacts of human rights work | openDemocracy

China OR the UN must ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli !

March 27, 2015

When late Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli – as Final Nominee of he Martin Ennals Award 2014 – got a standing ovation during the ceremony in October last year, we all said, with the 10 NGOs on the Jury, that we should not forget her. On 19 March 2015 in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council that is exactly what a group of NGOs [International Service for Human Rights and supported by Human Rights WatchCIHRSCIVICUSConectasEHARDPArticle 19HRHF and ALRC] asked for: Ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli.CAO_SHUNLI_PORTRAIT

China must ensure a full, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli, ..If Chinese authorities are unable or unwilling to conduct such an investigation in accordance with international standards, the Human Rights Council as the world’s top human rights body must take appropriate action, the statement said.

One year after her tragic death, there has been no adequate investigation or accountability in relation to the death of Chinese defender Cao Shunli,’ said Michael Ineichen, Head of Human Rights Council Advocacy at ISHR. ‘If China is let of the hook for such a blatant case of reprisals against someone wanting to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, the Council sends a message to rights abusers that activists can be attacked with impunity.’

The statement highlighted the negative effect of impunity for cases of intimidation and reprisals, as shown by the numerous reported cases of intimidation and reprisals occurring during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, including against South Sudanese and Bahraini defenders.

The legal and moral obligations of States to protect those who cooperate with the UN are clear, and if a State fails to conduct stop reprisals or to properly investigate allegations, the UN has a responsibility to act, the statement said.

We welcome recent advances on the institutional level, such as the treaty body policies that recognise States’ primary duty to ensure accountability in the case of reprisals, and the UN’s own duty of care,’ said Eleanor Openshaw, Head of Reprisals Advocacy at ISHR. ‘However, in the absence of a more systematic approach, such as through a dedicated focal point on reprisals which could coordinate investigation of and follow-up to individual cases, these steps will remain the proverbial drop in the ocean’   The statement is available as a PDF and video.

for more on reprisals in this blog see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/

Conectas tries to balance Brazil’s human rights commitments at home and abroad

January 30, 2015

Under the title “Home and abroad: balancing Brazil’s human rights commitments”, Muriel Asseraf – in Open Democracy of 22 january 2015 – has written an interesting piece highlighting the role of the major NGO Conectas, whose strategy is based on “the conviction that human rights defenders and their organizations in the global south hold the key to an international order more diverse and committed to the respect of human rights”. A good read for the weekend! Read the rest of this entry »

Honoring some of the many women human rights defenders on International Women’s Day

March 9, 2014

Yesterday, 7 March 2014, saw many expressions of solidarity with women human rights defenders at the occasion of International Women’s Day.

The ISHR picked the following cases as examples that stand out:

You can find many more cases via the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition [http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/] which brings together women activists and those committed to the advancement of women human rights and those working on gender issues, to advocate for better protection of women human rights defenders.

via Honouring women human rights defenders on International Women’s Day! | ISHR.