The Ford Foundation today announced $6.25 million in grants to seven leading human rights organizations that will strengthen and diversify the global human rights movement and enable it to confront the abuses that continue to violate the dignity and lives of the most vulnerable.

The seven grants focus on human rights organizations that operate in numerous countries and international forums, underscoring the foundation’s long commitment to supporting collaboration and fostering effective networks. Combined with a five-year, $50 million initiative announced last year to support human rights organizations based outside Europe and the United States, Ford is spurring innovative thinking about the way the global human rights system functions and its capacity to address 21st century issues such as economic and social inequality.

“The human rights movement has arguably been the most effective and wide-reaching social movement of our time,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “But the movement faces a notably different set of challenges today than it did even 15 years ago, along with a new set of opportunities for advancing human rights in today’s world. The grants we make today will enable these institutions to more actively adapt, diversify and retool the way the movement works for all of us.”

The seven grants announced today will support:

  • The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
  • Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC)
  • Crisis Action
  • Global Witness
  • The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO)
  • The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net)

In an earlier round of grants, the foundation aimed to amplify the voices and global presence of human rights organizations based in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. The grants announced today round out the foundation’s commitment to advancing human rights and, taken together, these investments represent an ambitious effort to help the human rights movement retool for a global environment brimming with new players, shifting political dynamics and an ever-changing set of challenges, such as the impact of extractive industries on indigenous people and scourge of impunity for war crimes.

“A multitude of challenges face the human rights movement today, and we must respond by lifting up new voices and supporting emerging structures,” said Martín Abregú, director of human rights and governance at the foundation. “The dynamics of a connected world demand that we evolve the movement and ensure those whose lives are most affected are engaged in the process to find solutions.”

With several other critical human rights actors added into the mix—such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Witness, all with continuing support from the Ford Foundation—the cohort has the potential to renew the priorities and efficacy of the human rights movement.

“We are excited to see this cohort—comprised of some of the world’s most innovative human rights organizations working on the international level—provide the leadership to chart the future course of the movement,” said Louis N. Bickford, human rights program officer at the foundation.

About the Grants

Founded in 1982, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is an international feminist membership organization committed to advancing gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights. Their work is grounded in a commitment to feminist movement building by convening and mobilizing diverse constituencies and facilitating multilingual information and analysis. They also spearhead research, advocacy and strategic action on three priority themes: challenging religious fundamentalisms; economic justice and financing for women’s rights; and supporting women human rights defenders.

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has become the main global source of information on business and human rights, enabling it to help shape and move forward this important new field of human rights work. The Resource Centre draws attention to the human rights impact of more than 5,000 companies worldwide, with a focus on transparency and accountability. The Resource Centre supports local NGOs and community groups by giving prominence to their concerns and seeking responses from companies, playing an important bridge-builder role and often fostering real improvements on the ground.

Using new models of global collaboration and advocacy techniques, Crisis Action enables civil society to effectively fight for the rights of marginalized people affected by armed conflict. Launched in 2004, Crisis Action’s model recognizes that collaborative advocacy approaches are most useful in tackling complex and intractable human rights issues pertaining to war and peace. Often serving the role of catalyst and convener of joint action and work behind the scenes, Crisis Action empowers coalitions to act quickly and effectively to advance efforts to protect human rights.

For 19 years, Global Witness has worked to prevent natural resource-related conflict and corruption, and associated environmental and human rights abuses, by investigating cases and running pioneering campaigns. By examining and exposing the unsustainable demand and inequitable distribution of resources, Global Witness enables civil society and global citizens to hold governments, companies and investors to account. Their work promotes good governance, the rule of law, and transparency, as well as sustainability and accountability in the way the world’s natural resources are managed.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) unites 178 national organizations from 120 countries that share actions and strategies to promote the effective implementation of universal standards on the ground. Founded in 1922 by 15 organizations, FIDH is today recognized among the most vibrant and dynamic human rights organizations. FIDH acts in conjunction with member and partner organizations on protecting and supporting human rights defenders; promoting women’s and migrants’ rights; building and utilizing effective justice systems; strengthening respect for human rights in the context of globalization; defending democratic principles; and supporting victims of serious violations in times of conflict or transition.

The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) is a network of independent national human rights organizations. Together, they work to promote fundamental rights and freedoms by supporting and mutually reinforcing the domestic efforts of its member organizations in Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. INCLO member organizations also collaborate globally on a bilateral and multilateral basis. The Network’s current thematic priorities are: police accountability and social protest; religious freedom and equal treatment; and informational rights.

Founded in Bangkok in 2003, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) unites 211 NGOs and social movements and 48 individual advocates across 68 countries, working to build a global movement to make human rights and social justice a reality for all. Through ESCR-Net, members develop shared analysis, define strategies and undertake collective action to advance the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, in interdependence with civil and political rights.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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