Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide
Human Rights

Strengthening Human Rights Worldwide

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We work to support a vibrant, vital human rights movement for the 21st century—one that is closely attuned to the needs of historically marginalized communities around the world and focused on realizing their rights.

The Challenge

The human rights movement is generally considered to be the most successful social movement of the second half of the 20th century. The movement has made great advances in developing international norms and standards, creating intergovernmental oversight bodies, strengthening regional human rights systems, and supporting key international actors, including states, NGOs and UN entities.

Today, dynamic global trends—including the rising influence of national powers in the Global South, economic globalization and the wide reach of new communications technologies—are creating renewed urgency for human rights policy and advocacy. As the world changes, so, too, do the needs and demands of the historically marginalized people who lack fundamental human rights, effective advocates and access to justice. The movement is searching for strategies that work in this new context to uphold the rights of the world ’s most vulnerable people.

What We’re Doing

In collaboration with established and emerging human rights organizations, the foundation is working to develop a new architecture for the movement that matches our more globalized era—one that is equipped to confront structural discrimination and inequality, and ensure that the rights of the world ’s historically marginalized people are implemented and enforced at the national, regional and international levels. By fostering diverse leadership, we aim to make the movement better attuned to the needs of diverse communities.

At the global level, we invest in flagship organizations so they can harness new opportunities, be more effective and assume a greater leadership role at the international level. In five regions, our field offices bring deep knowledge of each region ’s unique human rights challenges to their efforts to protect and enforce the rights of vulnerable populations.

In Brazil, this means an emphasis on the economic and social rights of marginalized urban communities, while in the Andean Region and Southern Cone our office focuses on fighting structural discrimination and violence against indigenous populations and Afro-descendants. In India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, we support the development of a healthy and robust legal ecosystem, including innovative legal remedies in public interest litigation. Our work in Southern Africa is aimed in large part at responding to challenges in implementing and enforcing the country ’s transformative Constitution. In the Middle East and Northern Africa, we are building an environment that will contribute to respect for, protection and realization of economic and social rights during a time of transition.

Learn more about how our strategies and approaches shape our grant making.




  • Vivek Malhotra
  • Ghada Abdel Tawab
  • Felipe Agüero
  • Louis N.  Bickford
  • Noha El-Mikawy
  • Nicolette Naylor
  • Letícia Osório

From the Newsroom


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