Posts Tagged ‘donors’

Security and self-care must become part of the culture of human rights defenders

May 10, 2017

HOLLY DAVIS and MAGDA ADAMOWICZ published in Open Democracy of 10 May 2017 an important piece entitled “Security and well-being: two sides of the same coin“.  It states inter alia that by not paying enough attention to self-care, activists are compromising their own security—and that of their organizations. [It is a contribution to the debate on mental health and well-being.]

The authors rightly make the point that.. “in addition to threats against their personal safety and security, defenders face exhaustion and trauma and struggle with burnout.”


Flickr/ CDIH (Some rights reserved) Following the hearing on the human rights situation in Bajo Aguán held on April 5, 2016, a vigil was held by Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist who was murdered on March 3, 2016 in Honduras.

By including and addressing well-being, trainers have a critical role to play in expanding defenders’ understanding of security and increasing their capacity to adopt new habits. These changes can happen only by integrating security and self-care into the everyday work and culture of human rights defenders and organizations.

Each organization and individual will have different needs. They may include:

  • •Allowing time and dedicated funding for staff retreats, peer support groups, psychological or supervision support, or other individual practices.

  • •Creating space to discuss people’s well-being at the team or organizational level.

  • •Connecting activists with peers from other organizations so they can find solidarity and support.

  • •Designing an organizational self-care plan with clear goals, expectations, and boundaries that are transparent and to which teams are accountable. Such a plan might include expectations for work hours and off-hours availability, the option to work from home, time for a true break during the workday, offering activities like stretching and meditation, or simply scheduling a block of quiet time without meetings.

  • •Consistently implementing an organizational self-care plan, with staff supporting each other, and regularly checking-in with each other through meetings that include a well-being status update.

  • •Challenging what is truly a crisis requiring immediate action, breaking a cycle of stress where people feel like they cannot afford to stop working.

Above all, human rights organizations and funders need to remember that prioritizing the safety and health of defenders, preventing burnout, and treating trauma are not self-indulgences. Rather, they are best practices. Individual and organizational attitudes and behavior must evolve. This means mainstreaming security and moving towards organizational cultures in which self-care is inherently understood to be critical to success. The old refrain of “toughen up or leave” is obsolete.

Source: Security and well-being: two sides of the same coin | openDemocracy

Facing a global attack on the very idea of human rights defenders – funders need to step up

October 19, 2016

Andrew Anderson, in the meantime confirmed as the new Director of Front Line Defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/front-line-defenders-announces-steady-hand-andrew-anderson-as-new-executive-director/], argues – in a very interesting piece published by the International Human Rights Funders Group on 8 September 2016 – for the following:

(1) increased direct support to human rights defenders working at the local and national level,

(2) more flexibility in funding, and

(3) a greater focus on core, multi-year support.

As the piece is short and to the point, here the full text: Read the rest of this entry »

Donors should work jointly against the wave of civil society repression

July 10, 2015

The Newsletter of the International Service for Human Rights of 5 June 2015 carried an interesting piece written by two representatives of donors that are very active in the area of protection human rights defenders.  Julie Broome, Director of Programmes with the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and Iva Dobichina, Programme Manager with the Open Society Foundation‘s Human Rights Initiative, wrote jointly about much-needed efforts to “turn the tide against the wave of civil society repression”.  The piece follows in toto below, but some of the key points are: Read the rest of this entry »

Austria and Netherlands pledge €1.35 million to African human rights defenders

February 16, 2015

World Bulletin News (from Turkey) reports on 13 February about the Dutch and Austrian governments funding a three-year project to support African human rights defenders. One always wonders why this kind of information pops up in one news source but not in others. Read the rest of this entry »

Important Report: “Keeping Defenders Safe: A Call to Donor Action”

November 8, 2014

I am sharing with you an important new report on the protection and security of human rights defenders entitled, “Keeping Defenders Safe: A Call to Donor Action”. The report was released this summer but did not get the attention it deserves. The report reviews existing responses to the security challenges that human rights defenders face, with a focus on the grant-makers who support work aimed at strengthening HRD protection and security. The author, Borislav Petranov, conducted more than 150 interviews with defenders and related stakeholders around the world, seeking to capture the viewpoints of activists on the ground.  Monette Zard prepared it for publication. The report’s conclusions suggest changes in focus and approach with recommendations that donors can implement individually as well as collectively to enhance the protection and security of HRDs. While it is not a roadmap or comprehensive analysis of protection mechanisms, it does recommend considered reflection on current policies and practices in the field:  Read the rest of this entry »