Building sustainable and resilient movements through care and protection

The mental health and well-being of advocates is increasingly understood as an imperative for sustainable movements, but is still frequently neglected by organizations, funders, and advocates themselves. What risks do human rights advocates and activists face, and how might they be mitigated? How can organizations, funders, and movements take better care of the people behind human rights work—both in alleviating harmful effects of the work, but also in creating conditions for resilience, creativity, and personal and collective well-being?


Justice for animals and expanding our communities

By: Ezio Costa Cordella

An animal justice approach that respects all life while recognizing significant differences could transform humans’ relationship with nature.

Addressing climate change through the right to an adequate standard of living

By: Anika Baset

Social inequalities will intensify in a climate-affected world. The right to an adequate standard of living can protect those most vulnerable to the impacts of ...

Justice for Animals: A theory in search of moral principles

By: David Bilchitz

To respect all animals’ diverse ways of flourishing, we need a consistent set of moral principles that hold up across practical scenarios.

Mutual aid sustains human rights movements around the world

By: Antonio Gutierrez & Felipe Mesel & Emese Ilyes & Melania Chiponda

In both Latin America and in North America mutual aid movements swelled in response to the collective trauma and collective learning of the pandemic.

Indigenous human rights claims outline promising new ways of life

By: Benjamin Davis

The West ultimately needs to be more reflective about how we live our lives in a very ordinary, everyday sense.

40,000 people arbitrarily deprived of their nationality in Colombia

By: Andrés Besserer Rayas & Maria Fernanda Orozco Naranjo & Sebastian Portilla Parra & Gabriela del Pilar Thiriat Pedraza

Arbitrary cancellation of nationality has serious sociolegal effects that are being documented in Colombia.

Seizing the moment to shake up philanthropy

By: Liliane Loya & Ellen Sprenger & Lucas Paulson

Five trends that are reorganizing the way funding agencies can work for philanthropic causes.

Caring workspaces for human rights

By: Ezgi Kan & Kerem Çiftçioğlu

Defending human rights workers’ working conditions based on an ethic of care is one of the best ways to foster resilience and well-being.

Work fully, playfully

By: Jessica Fjeld

If work life balance needs to be thrown out the window, what’s the sturdier, more supportive and humane alternative?

Pandemic Insights

By: OGR Admin

OGR has asked several leaders in the human rights community to share a learning, a reflection, or an insight from these unique times. Read or listen to them here.

The Barcelona Guidelines: supporting human rights defenders in temporary relocation

By: Martin Jones & Alice M. Nah & Tessa de Ryck
Español | Français | العربية

For human rights defenders in crisis, temporary relocation can save lives. But new guidelines highlight that the wellbeing and mental health of these defenders ...

Embodiment as resilience and resistance in human rights work

By: Loretta Pyles

Human rights violations harm people’s minds and their bodies, and addressing both can help to heal trauma and allow people to move forward in a more whole and empowered ...

Power and safety: rethinking protection for human rights defenders

By: James Savage & Lisa VeneKlasen

The protection and resilience of Human Rights Defenders demands that we all better understand and navigate how power and violence operate in both public and private ...

Treaty pushes for environmental justice in Latin America and the Caribbean

By: Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah

Despite closing space for civil society, the new Escazú Agreement—which offers protection measures for environmental groups and defenders—is a shining example of ...

Could “hope and aspirations” end the vicious cycle of poverty?

By: Keetie Roelen

Non-invasive and non-punitive interventions that draw on positive emotions have promising potential to break the poverty cycle, but this approach risks ignoring ...

Self-care for sustainable movements: difficult but necessary

By: Gulika Reddy

Donors, organizations and staff in the peacebuilding and human rights fields need to talk about the systemic, organizational, and personal barriers to self-care.

Creating a healing space for women human rights defenders

By: Ana María Hernández Cárdenas & Nallely Guadalupe Tello Méndez

Self-care and collective care do not erase the stress and tensions of everyday life, but using these strategies can sustainably improve our coexistence and work ...

Avoiding the “access abyss”: palliative care, pain relief, and human rights

By: Ravindran Daniel

The last decade has seen major developments in recognizing palliative care and pain treatment as a human rights issue, but governments have a long way to go in ...

Building the foundations of resilience: 11 lessons for human rights educators and supervisors

By: Sarah Knuckey & Su Anne Lee

Educators and managers can play an important role in building the next generation of resilient human rights advocates.

The forgotten advocates of children's rights in Guatemala

By: Myrella Saadeh

In Guatemala, children’s rights advocates are often the most heavily burdened and the most frequently ignored.

New threats against human rights defenders require new kinds of protection

By: Padre Melo

Human rights organizations and funders in Latin America need to rethink how they protect defenders in light of increasing threats from non-state actors and impunity ...

Integrating a psychosocial perspective in human rights works

By: Maik Müller

Integrating a psychosocial perspective requires the incorporation of psychosocial support and self-care into job descriptions and work plans

“No One Warned Me”: the trade-off between self-care and effective activism

By: Yara Sallam

Is there a trade off between protecting your mental health as an activist and doing effective work?

Making our movements sustainable: practicing holistic security every day

By: Deepa Ranganathan & María Díaz Ezquerro
Español | العربية | Français

What does holistic security and collective self-care in human rights work look like on a day-to-day basis?

Revolutions are built on hope: the role of funders in collective self-care

By: Shena Cavallo & Jocelyn Berger & Michelle Truong

Funder practices are vital to alleviate partner advocates’ stress, anxiety, and burnout from uncertainty or rigid requirements.

Collective care in human rights funding: a political stand

By: Meerim Ilyas & Tatiana Cordero Velásquez
العربية | Português | Español

To support the activists and groups that we fund, donors must engage in honest conversations around our own burnout and ethics.

Ready for anything: how preparation can improve trauma recovery

By: Zelalem Kibret

When in the field, human rights workers must be better prepared for trauma in order to heal from it.

When advocacy work builds resilience, everyone benefits

By: Kristi Pinderi
Español | shqiptar

For many, activism can be healthy and healing.

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

By: Holly Davis & Magda Adamowicz

By not paying enough attention to self-care, activists are compromising their own security—and that of their organizations.

Turning weakness into strength: lessons as a new advocate

By: Alexandra Zetes

Without adequate preparation, new human rights advocates can be easily traumatized and struggle to understand what they are going through.

Healthy for the long haul: building resilience in human rights workers

By: Fred Abrahams
Español | العربية

Human rights organizations are finally recognizing that mental health programs for their own staff are long overdue.

Fighting stigma: protecting the mental health of African rights advocates

By: Douglas Mathew Mawadri
Français | العربية

Human rights advocates in Africa face significant challenges in getting past mental health stigmas in order to get help.

Evidence of trauma: the impact of human rights work on advocates

By: Meg Satterthwaite
Español | Français

It’s time to think seriously about the effects of trauma on human rights activists.

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