The human rights movement promotes respect, understanding and acceptance of diversity. It aims to tackle discrimination through research, monitoring, documentation and advocacy.
Many people have looked for a way to justify human rights that is less dependent on domestic and international political developments than legal enactment. Some have even claimed that these normative standards are innate or God-given.
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR)
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) is a grant making institution that supports civil society organisations and public institutions to implement programmes which promote human rights. Its mission is to address the historical legacy of apartheid, support the transformation of South Africa and build a human rights culture in the country using the Constitution of South Africa as its primary tool.
The enjoyment of a person’s human rights largely depends on the level of awareness about these rights and how they can be enforced. This is why Human Rights Education (HRE) is so important. HRE is an essential part of human rights protection and it takes place at both international and domestic levels.
At the international level, human rights treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, set out a broad framework of every day rights. These are binding on Governments that have ratified them and form the International Bill of Rights.
However, the implementation and enforcement of these rights at the local level, is mainly done through the domestic legal system. In addition, mechanisms and procedures for individual and group complaints are available at both regional and international levels to help ensure that international human rights standards are respected and enforced.
It is also important to remember that HRE is a responsibility shared by all role players at the local and national levels, including State institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), non-governmental organisations and civil society. As the preamble to the Universal Declaration states, ‘Each individual and every organ of society has an obligation… to strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms’.
The SAHRC, as a constitutionally independent body, plays an integral role in HRE. However, it is often criticized for not being tough enough on the Government to make sure it honours its commitments to protect and fulfil people’s human rights. Moreover, it is funded by the State and as the saying goes ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’.
The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit, human rights advocacy organization. Its mission is to remove impediments to democratic development and meaningful enjoyment of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in Uganda’s 1995 Constitution and internationally recognized human rights instruments. This is done through the enhancement of knowledge, respect and observance of human rights, and promotion of the exchange of information and best practices through training, education, research, legislative advocacy and strategic partnerships in Uganda.
FHRI’s work is guided by the aspirations of all peoples for an international order that promotes peace, democracy, justice and equality, a better standard of living, the rule of law and solidarity. This international order is based on the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including the rights of all persons and the right to self-determination.
The organization supports civil society coalitions in promoting democracy and respect for human rights, including through the conduct of civic education and human rights training. It also undertakes research, monitoring and documentation. It publishes human rights literature, and advocates for legislative reform through parliamentary lobbying. Its current focus is on the progressive abolition of the death penalty in Uganda, through public interest litigation and advocacy campaigns.
It works to empower citizens with the knowledge and skills to demand leadership accountability and a democratic culture that supports human rights. It also advocates for a judicial system that is responsive to human rights concerns. It is a member of the Civil Society Coalition on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and a member of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders hosted by HURINET UGANDA.
FHRI has faced some challenges in achieving its objectives. These include a lack of financial sustainability, staffing issues and the need for ongoing support from donors. In addition, it faces problems with illiteracy among its beneficiaries and cultural practices that contradict the goals of human rights organizations. However, the organization has been able to address these challenges by conducting evaluations and using results to improve its effectiveness. The evaluation process has also been beneficial in fostering a stronger learning community within the organization.
The Advancing Human Rights initiative
The Foundation works with courageous and effective human rights activists, who often face severe risks in their struggle to improve the lives of their communities. It supports initiatives that amplify their voices and help them connect with other human rights grantmakers worldwide. It also encourages collaboration to address shared challenges through a virtual forum that addresses national and global issues. In addition, the foundation works to promote and protect international democracy by supporting the work of nongovernmental organizations around the world.
The Advancing Human Rights initiative has been designed to enable the Foundation to respond quickly and effectively to emerging opportunities and challenges by prioritizing human rights as a co-equal pillar alongside governance and democracy. To do so, it builds upon the existing capacity of the DRG Center by ensuring that human rights are embedded in all aspects of the Foundation’s work.
Foundation funding in support of global human rights increased significantly in 2019, according to a new report from Candid and the Human Rights Funders Network. The report, titled Advancing Human Rights: A Review of Global Foundation Grantmaking — 2019, finds that total grant dollars for human rights rose by 10 percent in 2019 compared with the previous year among a matched set of funders. Grants by a matched set of funders increased in six out of nine issue areas, with the greatest increases seen in support of racial and ethnic groups, women and girls, and migrants and refugees.
The report also explores the role of funders in advancing human rights, including by looking at how their strategies and practices vary from one another. It compares human rights giving by region, issue area, population, and – for the first time – strategy. This study provides important insight into the current state of human rights funding, as well as opportunities for future growth. It will be of interest to funders interested in strengthening their own ability to advance human rights and support their peers. The research is available to download for free at the Foundation Center’s website. The report was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Nationale Postcode Loterij, with additional support from Ariadne, Prospera, and HRFN.
Accion Local is a nonprofit organization that works to help low-income small business owners and their communities thrive. The organization provides affordable capital and the business support they need to create healthy enterprises that contribute to local economies. Through innovative partnerships and outreach strategies, the organization connects entrepreneurs to a network of support services, including financial coaching, educational resources, and access to lending capital.
The organization works to improve access to credit and banking services for low-income entrepreneurs in the United States. By supporting a network of community-based loan funds, the organization helps to increase economic opportunity in underserved areas. The organization also promotes best practices in microfinance and community development. In addition, the organization hosts the annual Global Microfinance Summit.
In 2019, Accion was able to assist a jeweler from Hazard Center with access to capital. Stewart Benjamin came to Accion seeking to expand his business during this difficult time, and the organization was able to provide him with an unsecured loan of $5,000. The loan will help the jewelry store purchase new inventory and equipment, and will also allow Stewart to renovate his business.
The tectonica team loves helping worthy progressive causes take their work to the next level. However, a lot of these organizations lack the resources to build an effective digital structure. That’s why we created a new program called Accion Local. Ned Howey, a principal at tectonica, describes Accion Local as “a sort of progressive charity version of a hackathon.”
With the goal of creating more jobs in neighborhoods that need them most, Accion has partnered with community-based organizations to reach 800 entrepreneurs over the next three years. Consistent third-party research shows that each Accion business loan creates or maintains 3 to 5 jobs in neighborhoods that are struggling economically.
Accion’s founder, Charles Blatchford, was heavily influenced by the philosophical works of Alexis de Tocqueville, Aldous Huxley and Mohandas Gandhi. He believed that Americans needed to find non-militaristic ways to focus their involvement abroad while promoting self-determination and democracy. He recruited two other standout UC Berkeley law students to manage the volunteer recruitment, publicity and stateside orientation of volunteers while he continued cultivating contacts in Latin America.