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.

Publication highlights

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'Re-membering Red Riding Hood: situated solidarities between Ireland and Uganda' by Ruth Kelly. Published in Feminist Theory.

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'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.

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'Discursive alignment of trafficking, rights and crime control' by Mattia Pinto. Published in International Journal of Law in Context.

Past projects