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LitTalks: Global Politics and Philanthropy

8-Part Regional Discussion Series: December 2020 through August 2021 

HRFN’s “LitTalks” raises the most pressing questions about the global impact of United States politics on human rights today. We’re gathering regional perspectives from activists, funders, political thinkers, artists, and others to:

  • Unpack the state of social justice organizing
  • Analyze human rights philanthropy in times of pandemic
  • Shed light on a shifting world order
  • Raise questions about the lasting legacies of Trumpism & U.S. foreign policies

Topics & Dates (updated):
All times in Eastern Time. Check your timezone here


Part-1 – Latin America and the Caribbean:
Debating the Impact of the U.S. Election
Pilot Program – Debuted Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What can Latin America expect from the Biden Administration? What are the central issues to be addressed: Migration? Organized crime? Defense of democracy? What priorities does civil society expect to see in policy and what do human rights activists themselves want to see? What role does philanthropy play?  With examples from the most excluded sectors, such as Afro-Colombians and Indigenous people, and an eye on changing global relations, we explore this moment. What is the role of gender in the region? Will China be the new hegemonic power in LAC? Priorities for philanthropy?

(English Video) (Spanish Video)


Part-2 – The United States: A New Relationship with the World?
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 10–11:30 AM ET

The hegemonic crisis. The internal fractures (racism, inequality, poverty) and their link to foreign policy. How will a post-imperial United States link up with the world? The Atlantic relationship, the anti-interventionist tendency (of the right and the left). Is the U.S. sharing power or is it trying to lead in the international system? How will the Biden Administration make the transition to a new role? What is the role of U.S. philanthropy domestically and abroad amidst these sea of changes?

(English Video) (Spanish Video – Tenga en cuenta que en la versión en español la interpretación no comienza hasta el minuto diez.)

Livestream in Spanish available in collaboration with EsGlobal.


Part-3 – A New Middle East After Trump?
Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 10–11:30 AM ET

The Trump Administration’s impact on the region. The U.S. withdrawal. Who takes its place? The geopolitical, political, and identity tensions in the region (Iran vs. Saudi Arabia). Supporting social movements in crisis. Internationalized civil wars (Syria, Libya, Yemen). Israel’s new relations with Arab states and the marginalization of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Social protest in Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. The problem of oppressed communities. The role of women in protests and in militarization. Internal migration.

(Register Now)


Part-4 – Asia & the Pacific: Is the World Leaning East?
Thursday, April 22, 2021 | 8-9:30 AM ET

China: a regional and global power. The new “Silk Road.” China’s foreign policy and development cooperation approach towards Africa and Latin America. Will economic growth be globalized with authoritarianism? How will human rights networks operate? How can funders reach them? A new cold war with the United States? Geopolitical hot spots: Pakistan-India and India-China, Hong-Kong. The dangerous way ahead in Afghanistan. Human rights under attack in Myanmar. Common problems: authoritarianism, political radicalization, environmental crisis, macro cities, young populations.

(Register Now)


Part-5 – African Futures: Subverting the Development Paradigm
Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 10-11:30 AM ET

Twenty-four states, one billion people (half of whom will be under the age of 25 by 2050), and multiple identities. Nineteen “fragile” states. The highest number of armed conflicts in the world. Post colonialism and the challenges to build-up effective States. The environmental crisis, megacities, destruction of arable land and migration. Civil war in Ethiopia in 2020. The impact of COVID-19: 40 million more people in poverty. The presence of China and Russia. The role of civil society in consolidating democracy, particularly women and youth. The African Union and peacekeeping.

(Register Now)


Part-6 – Global Challenges for Europe
Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 10-11:30 AM ET

The crisis of freedom of speech and gender equality (Poland and Hungary). The rise and influence of the far right. The impact of COVID-19 on public services and social inequalities. Challenges: financial crisis after COVID, climate emergency, migration, data and privacy, relationship with neighbourhood countries, future policy towards Russia. Reconnecting transatlantic relations. Projecting the EU through soft power: climate diplomacy, development cooperation, humanitarian aid and conflict resolution. Civil society networks. How can funders support?

(Register Now)


Part-7 – Russia Is Back
Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 10-11:30 AM ET

The reconstruction of the post-Soviet influence. Nationalism on the rise. Authoritarian democracy and corruption. Reinforcement of the military apparatus. Tensions with NATO. Restrictions on civil society: the November 2020 law on “foreign agents.” How can foreign philanthropy operate under the control of civil society? The future of the relationship with the United States, China and Europe.

(Register Now)


Part-8 – The World Needs Multilateralism (Reformed!)
Thursday, August 17, 2021 | 10-11:30 AM ET

Crisis of the multilateral/liberal system formed after World War II. Weaknesses and limitations of this system. The relationship with International Law and protection of rights. Attacks of the global ultra-right. How to improve and defend it. Role of civil society and foundations. A new multilateralism for a multipolar world. What role for Southern countries? How can philanthropy support the multilateral system?

(Register Now)

For questions about the series, please contact us at info@hrfn.org.


Series Host: Ana María Enríquez

Executive Director, Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN), Ana María leads the network’s efforts to connect activists, intellectuals, artists, and social movement leaders with philanthropy leaders, promoting dialogues and strategies across sectors. Ana María has 20 years of experience working in the USA, Europe and Latin America. She has worked with global private foundations, multilaterals, and NGOs working to advance human rights including UN Women, where she designed and led the Fund for Gender Equality, a 50 Million Euro Fund to advance women’s rights, the Ford Foundation, where she led an initiative in support of social justice philanthropy in the Global South, and the Global Fund for Women, among others. Fluent in Spanish, French, and English (and conversant in Portuguese), Ana María works from her home country of Colombia and is currently Co-Chair for the Management Board of the Funders Initiative for Civil Society (FICS).

Series Moderator: Mariano Aguirre

Mariano Aguirre Ernst, our moderator based in Oslo, is a researcher on peace and conflicts; political analyst. He is an associate fellow Chatham House (London); member of the Latin American Network for Inclusive and Sustainable Security, Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Berlín-Bogotá); and Board member of the Human Rights Institute, Deusto University (Bilbao). He is also a member of the Transnational Institute (Amsterdam). He has been Senior Advisor on Peacebuilding at the Office of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Colombia (2017-2019) and Director of the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF) (Oslo) (2009-2016). A Spanish citizen, born in Argentina he has lived in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, the United States, and Colombia. Aguirre is the author, among other books, of Leap into the Void. Crisis and decline of the United States.

Upcoming Events (7)

Past Events

Webinars11:00-12:30 ET │ 16:00 GMT │ 17:00 CET

Grantmaking Principles: Equity

This workshop has already occurred. Please visit these links to watch an English recording or Spanish recording, view the materials, and see a visual harvest illustrating portions of the discussion.   Please join us on Tuesday, December 8th for the third installment of our six-part series to explore principles to guide bold and just philanthropy…. Read more

Webinars11:00-12:30 ET │ 16:00 GMT │ 17:00 CET

Grantmaking Principles: Power Sharing and Shifting │ Community Driven

This workshop has already occurred. Please visit these links to watch an English recording or Spanish recording, view the materials, and see a visual harvest illustrating portions of the discussion. Please join us on Tuesday, November 17th for the second installment of our six-part series to explore principles to guide bold and just philanthropy. In… Read more

Webinars11:00-12:30 ET │ 16:00 BST │ 17:00 CEST

Human Rights Grantmaking: Why these principles and why now?

This workshop has already occurred. Please visit these links to watch a recording of the workshop, view the slides, and see a visual harvest illustrating the discussion.   Please join us on Tuesday, October 20th for the first installment of our six-part workshop series where we will dive into our newly released human rights grantmaking… Read more

Webinars11AM EST / 5PM CET

Building Back Better Through Civil Society

In the COVID-19 response, civil society organizations are proving their worth now more than ever. Their active participation will be critical in building back better, whether by driving community action, grounding policy responses, or holding power to account. So how can public and private funders be most helpful in supporting civil society organizations?   Join… Read more

In-Person Gatherings

Cancelled due to COVID-19: Join us in September for HRFN’s 2020 Conference!

This event has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Please stay tuned for more information about our plan for innovative virtual conversations and gatherings in 2020. We’re excited to announce HRFN’s 2020 Annual Conference!  Following an important year of transition, we’re looking forward to 2020 when we’ll convene our meeting at a new venue, welcome a… Read more

Webinars4:00 PM (EST) / 5:00 PM (BRT)

Confidence in women: Philanthropy for Social Justice

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, ELAS Fund is hosting Confidence in women: Philanthropy for Social Justice, a virtual event broadcasted live on the ELAS YouTube channel. Speakers will discuss the importance of trust and flexible funding for women’s organizations. The event will be in Portuguese with English subtitles added later to the video.  Join… Read more

Webinars12:00 PM EST / 1:00 PM GMT-3


What creates change? At HRFN, we know that change can be slow and often incremental – That is, unless there’s a force of people creating a movement to be “On Fire to Inspire.” As part of our new global philanthropic advocacy strategy, we’re launching a conversation series called “Lit Talks,” which will help us stand… Read more

Webinars10:00 AM EDT/ 15:00 PM BST/ 16:00 PM CEST

Children on the Move in the context of COVID-19

Ensuring appropriate care and protection for children on the move in Northern Central America, Mexico, and the US in the context of COVID-19 Even before the pandemic, children and families from Central America and Mexico have been literally fighting for their lives amidst violence, exploitation, persecution, extreme poverty, a stifling lack of access to education,… Read more

Webinars10:00 AM ET/ 4:00 PM CEST/ 5:00 PM EAT

The Global State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements

Report Launch: Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The Global State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements   Hello members, We’re excited to invite you to join Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Mama Cash in a discussion of the findings of their new report “Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements” on Thursday,… Read more