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Intro to Human Rights Funding

Human rights belong to everyone — whatever your religion, race, class, gender, sexuality, where you live, the language you speak or any other factor. Human rights are interconnected, indivisible and intersectional.

What does it mean to be a human rights funder? Put simply, human rights grantmaking empowers individuals, communities, and institutions to promote the protection and enjoyment of rights, including those enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights treaties.

Equality and non-discrimination lie at the heart of both social justice and human rights work. Rooted in international law, and bolstered by legally binding standards and institutional mechanisms, human rights also provides a framework for organizing, advocacy and litigation — empowering people to stand up for themselves against a broad range of abuses.

Funders contribute to the advancement of human rights around the world by using a human rights approach to their grantmaking. Here are some common strategies funders use in their human rights grantmaking:

  • Public education to educate people about their human rights and how to claim them;
  • Documenting, reporting and fact-finding to expose human rights violations;
  • Litigation to uphold human rights and hold abusers accountable;
  • Policy advocacy to ensure that governments and others conform to human rights standards;
  • Research and scholarship to define the content of rights;
  • Networking and coalition building to further the effectiveness of a global human rights movement; and
  • Capacity building for organizations engaged in the above work, locally and internationally.

“The protection of human rights is vital for the prevention of violent conflicts, poverty reduction, sustainable social and economic development, peace and security.” — Lara Iglitzen, Executive Director, Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Key human rights documents include: