Teaching Human Rights

I was sitting in one of my favourite coffee shops this morning prepping for my class on Human Rights advocacy at St Norbert College (where I have been lecturing for the last few days).  Reading the news over breakfast it struck me that today’s Guardian was filled with stories that illustrated my key points. Those stories ended up shaping my lecture as follows:

1. Build your case
Spain restricting people’s rights to protest, Amnesty report finds

In any advocacy campaign one needs to do the research and gather the evidence – you have to build your case.

2. Apply pressure
U-turn over human rights protection for home care

Having built your case, you need to press you point home – that takes time and tactics. But if you can build up enough pressure things will change.

3. Get to agreements
Have garment factory conditions improved since Rana Plaza?

Your pressure needs to lead to a binding agreement. You need to get all (or at least as many as possible) of the key stakeholders to sign up to something that will address your issue.

4. Hold them accountable
Women must be treated as human beings, not commodities, says UN

Unfortunately, it is not just good enough to get people to agree to do the right thing. You then have to hold them to their commitment.

5. If all else fails take legal action
Marshall Islands sue nine nuclear powers over failure to disarm

In the end you may be forced to resort to legal action to compel them to abide by the commitments they made.