What's the New Human Rights Playbook?



Photo:Shutterstock/Donatas Dabravolskas (All rights reserved)

Photo: Walid BERRAZEG

In April 2018, Dejusticia (Center for Law, Justice, and Society), an action-research human rights organization based in Bogotá Colombia, in partnership with the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, launched an edited volume: Rising to the Populist Challenge: A New Playbook for Human Rights Actors. The book, co-edited by César Rodríguez-Garavito and Krizna Gomez, coalesces a repertoire of innovative responses by human rights organizations to confront the growing crackdown on civil society and the erosion of democracy worldwide. As Rodríguez-Garavito notes, “populist leaders seem to have been learning from each other in terms of the tactics that they use in delegitimizing and attacking human rights actors.” The challenge, therefore, and consequently what this collection seeks to provide, is a collection of fresh, innovative, and high-impact strategies to contribute to a new playbook for those resisting these politically challenging contexts. Articles curated here are based on the contributions from this volume.





How can the human rights community respond to severe political polarization?

By: James Logan
Español | Français

Severe political polarization is tearing at the seams of democracies around the world, with dangerous consequences for our societies, institutions, and human rights.

Dropping the defense: hopeful stories fight stigma in Hungary

By: Stefania Kapronczay & Anna Kertész

Dropping defensive tactics and reframing human rights in a relatable way are both key to responding to stigmatizing backlash in Hungary and connecting to new audiences.

Better data can counteract soft repression

By: Katrin Kinzelbach & Janika Spannagel
Español | Français

Changing the way we document human rights abuses—such as paying more attention to soft repression—could correct our understanding of what is really happening.

The end of tyranny: South Africa’s civil society fights back

By: Ivor Chipkin

Powerful civil society coalitions have re-emerged in South Africa, using litigation, social mobilization, and diverse political coalitions.

Rethinking the notion of a human rights crisis

By: Kathryn Sikkink
Español | Português

The frame of constant crisis has negative implications for human rights, especially when questions of legitimacy arise. But hope—based on empirical evidence of ...

Death by a thousand paper cuts: regulatory attacks on NGOs

By: Edwin Rekosh

A wave of unjustified government regulation is threatening NGO operations, and proactive responses are essential in order to effectively resist.

Strategic responses to the “Foreign Agent” label

By: Jonas Wolff

Instead of letting governments define the terms, CSOs need to take “foreign agent” allegations seriously and address them strategically.

Resist or flee: NGOs respond to Egypt’s crackdown

By: Khaled Mansour
العربية | Español

In the last few years, the Egyptian government has launched an unprecedented crackdown on civil society, causing human rights NGOs to flee, adapt or freeze.

Resilience in non-democratic contexts: Perspectives from Venezuela

By: Rafael Uzcátegui

As elected governments increasingly launch power grabs and smear campaigns against their critics, NGOs across Latin America must work together to restore democracy, ...

Populism and human rights: a new playbook

By: César Rodríguez-Garavito & Krizna Gomez
Español | العربية

With populist leaders stoking nationalism and violating basic rights, traditional advocacy strategies are losing their effectiveness. The human rights movement ...

Reducing dependence on foreign aid—what will it take?

By: James Ron & José Kaire & Archana Pandya & Andrea Martínez

Modest investments into local fundraising capacity could transform the global human rights community into a truly sustainable and autonomous force, rather than ...

Reclaiming civic space: global challenges, local responses

By: Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah & Mandeep Tiwana
Español | Português

To reclaim civic space, there are three key drivers that organizations must focus on, and three critical issues affecting local responses.

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