Faced with ever-rising populism, with economic and environmental crises, the human rights sector must embrace a strategic change of direction to sustain activism and protect political space.
Heeding the calls for a step change, the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) pursues three goals:
- to build solidarity with frontline grassroots activists
- to support capacity-bridging across regions, cultures, and activist experiences
- to supplement technical legal advocacy with compelling communication and mobilisation strategies.
A big part of this involves thinking politically about rights - how activists and movements engage with politics and make space for political as well as legal strategies on migration, women’s rights, land rights, and more.
As part of this, we are exploring how strategies from the arts and feminist activism can be adapted to help human rights activists respond to the challenges they face, and sustain their activism over time.
In this work, we are learning from our extensive networks around the world, and from traditions of innovative feminist activism and political thought from Bengal, East Africa, Ireland, and Mexico.
Our work also draws on lessons learnt from land rights activism in Colombia. In this context, and globally, activists working on land rights have been pillars of democratic change and expanded political space for often marginalised rural populations. They contribute to overcoming deeply entrenched forms of structural and everyday violence affecting these communities, and can engender accountability and transparency in decision-making that benefit much broader segments of the population.
'Re-membering Red Riding Hood: situated solidarities between Ireland and Uganda' by Ruth Kelly. Published in Feminist Theory.
'Justicia transformativa y conflicto agrario. Elementos para un debate necesario' by José Antonio Gutiérrez Danton, Eric Hoddy, Dáire McGill, Rocio del Pilar Peña-Huertas, Irene Vélez-Torres and Diana Marcela Muriel. Published by Universidad Santo Tomás.
'Discursive alignment of trafficking, rights and crime control' by Mattia Pinto. Published in International Journal of Law in Context.
Wellbeing and relocation
The wellbeing of human rights defenders is a critical - yet still often neglected - issue in the human rights movement. Premised on the observation that the strength of the movement depends on the health of its activists, over the years, CAHR has developed applied research projects focused on wellbeing and resilience, and on relocation as a protective strategy for human rights defenders at risk.
Pushing Back: opening political and civic space
The crack-down on civil society is a global phenomenon, which has dramatically affected the work of development and environmental activists in many parts of the world. This project identifies concrete ways of pushing back against shrinking political and civic space by sharing examples of good practice and innovation from activists, organisations and social movements that are promoting and protecting human rights in Bangladesh, France, Guatemala, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
UNESCO Chair and Human Rights Defender Hub
This signature programme focuses on the role that universities can play in protecting human rights defenders.Find out more
Fellowships for human rights defenders
Since 2008 CAHR has run a Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.Join us as a Fellow