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Changemakers

At The World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg 2022. Read more

Objective

E

The Changemakers Program provides a holistic approach to support influential changemakers around the world who represent a real step towards peace and positive change in their communities.

Scope

E

Program beneficiaries are journalists, activists, human rights defenders, and environmental defenders in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Meet Changemakers

Carlos

Meet Carlos. Just 19 years old, Carlos has already done so much to rebuild Beirut after the August 4th explosion.

Nathalia

Nathalia

Exiled from her home country, Nathalia has delivered thousands of Humanitarian Aid Kits to vulnerable groups in Nicaragua.

Khodor

Khodor believes in civil activity and peaceful actions to keep the ruling classes accountable.

“I deeply admire the courage and sacrifice of human rights defenders. These individuals and organizations are our eyes and ears and conscience.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres

 

“Human rights defenders are people who champion and fight for the human rights of other people. They challenge brutality, oppression and injustice in every part of the world, often risking their lives to expose abuses and hold powerful people to account, while supporting the survivors of human rights abuses.

They are invaluable in creating a world where all our human rights are respected – their efforts benefit all of us.”

Amnesty International

Changemaking Sponsors

Without support from our sponsors, change would not be possible. We would like to thank the following organisations in particular, who through their generous support of this project and investment in human rights defenders around the world, are crucial changemakers of society themselves.

The Catalysts of Change

Fighting for your rights

HRDs are not only an invaluable source of information for peacebuilding and human rights, they are our most powerful catalysts for positive change. We cannot afford to miss their voices in civil society.

    The 1998 UN Declaration for the protection of human rights defenders and civil society has seen a flagrant disrespect by many countries over the past two decades, and a resulting increase in the dangers and difficulties faced by society’s Changemakers. 

    These Changemakers come in every shape and form. Some are able to contribute outside of work hours, but there are practically no resources to support full-time defenders and activists.

    Not withstanding the many obstacles they face, it is often simply the lack of capital to cover their basic needs that results in the end of their change-making careers.

    The absence of reward mechanisms that allow for basic living requirements to be met through human rights activities has a cumulative effect on the effectiveness and longevity of crucial human rights work around the world:

    1. Human Rights Defenders and Activists face grave security issues due to inadequate working and living conditions.
    1. The lack of means to make a living forces HRDs and activists to cease their work and venture into unrelated commercial activities in order to support themselves.
    1. HRDs and Activists are susceptible to becoming forced migrants in order to protect their lives.

    The Problem

    The lack of critical funding for Human Rights Defenders – Most human rights defenders work long hours without pay, protection, or endorsement of any kind.

    In recent years, Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) have faced increasing difficulties with the rise of authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes, the resurgence of populist nationalists in western democracies, and the persistence of polarizing conflicts.

    “The Special Rapporteur (OHCHR) has expressed concern for the situation of human rights defenders in all countries, including both emerging democracies and countries with long-established democratic institutions, practices, and traditions.

    Many human rights defenders, in every region of the world, have been and continue to be subject to violations of their human rights. They have been the target of executions, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, death threats, harassment and defamation, as well as suffering restrictions on their freedoms of movement, expression, association, and assembly. Human rights defenders are often the victims of false accusations and unfair trials and convictions, and are targeted with acts of intimidation and reprisals for their cooperation with the United Nations on human rights issues.” (OHCHR).

    HRDs all over the world are at risk of many forms of attack from many different groups. A non-exhaustive list compiled by Amnesty illustrates the depth of the current global assault against human rights defenders:

    Personal attacks:

    • Killings and enforced disappearances
    • Persecution through prosecution
    • Stigmatization
    • Trolling
    • Reprisals

    Attacks on communication:

    • Surveillance
    • Internet censorship

    Shrinking space for civil society:

    • Attacks on the right to freedom or peaceful assembly
    • Hindering the right to association
    • Restrictions on foreign funding
    • Restrictions on registration
    • Restrictions on the freedom of movement

    Abuse by non-state actors:

    • Businesses
    • Armed groups
    • Organized criminal groups

    (List courtesy of Amnesty International HRD Report)

    The high risks that HRDs contend with is evident, as is their role in championing social change. The ability to function for many is unsustainable without basic support from those who can give it.

    The Cost of Conflict

     In a world where the cost of conflict is over $14 trillion a year, and millions of people have been forcibly displaced as a result, peace efforts remains critically underfunded.

    The Way Forward

    To combat humanitarian crises and improve the lives of millions of people, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon put forward a new Agenda for Humanity. This agenda sets out five core responsibilities aimed at reducing humanitarian suffering:

    1. “Prevent and end conflicts” includes a call for improved leadership and the need to act early

    2. “Respect rules of war” includes protecting civilians and their homes and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance

    3. “Leave no one behind” means addressing the issue of displacement and ensuring no one misses out on education during crises

    4. “Work differently to end need” includes respecting and strengthening local leadership and capacity, rather than replacing them

    5. “Invest in humanity” aims to improve investment in local capacities and stability, and calls for the diversification of resources and increased efficiency.

    The Proposed Solution

    Our initiative embraces the need to “work differently to end need”, which entails respecting and strengthening local leadership and capacity, rather than replacing them.

    Our approach is simple but effective. We encourage and sustain the grassroot efforts of social leaders by supporting the good work that is already being done.

     

    With a holistic support service designed for and by HRDs, the Changemakers Program addresses multiple needs that would otherwise require a collection of funds.

    In addition to support and training modules, the Changemakers Program supplements the income of its beneficiaries with a stipend to alleviate one of the most tenacious obstacles for sustainable human rights work… financial insecurity.

    This initiative represents an effort to redirect global capital to where it is needed and address a persistent shortcoming of a global market economy that struggles to reward human rights activities.

    UBI Support?

    • Countries like the United States and Canada are supporting the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) already. Alaska has been making annual UBI payments to every state resident for decades.
    • Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau pledged CAD $2,000 a month, for the next four months, to workers who have lost income due to the pandemic – a short-term form of UBI.
    • Finland paid 2,000 unemployed people 560 EUR a month for 2 years. The results were increased health and happiness, along with reduced mental strain. The recipients felt more confident, secure, and autonomous.
    • Using data from 75 reports covering 35 different studies, the World Bank Group found that both conditional amd unconditional cash transfers improved the odds of school enrollment and attendance, compared to no cash transfer program.
    • In a GiveDirectly program in Kenya, cash transfers have stimulated the economy and benefited not only the recipients themselves but also people in nearby villages.

    Documented Benefits

    • People on basic income reported large and statistically significant improvements in key drivers of well-being.
    • People were more likely to find a job while being part of basic income programs.
    • At a societal level, Finland’s basic-income experiment has shown to improve the recipients’ trust in their own abilities, as well as their trust in others and institutions. (McKinsey).

    UBI support for Changemakers

    The provision of UBI support for Changemakers is the first step in facilitating sustainable grass-root activism around the world. This program embrasses the Sustainable Development Goal #16 from the ground up.

    This is also an investment in the communities and local capacities of human rights defenders, empowering them to continue their critical work defending the values of human rights and democracy.

    Program Method

    The Changemakers Program selects its beneficiaries on the basis of their active and influential role in their fields.

    Our goal is to address the main barriers that they experience in their everyday human rights work, and to sustain their efforts in combatting a shrinking space for civil society.

    Our method is to provide a long-term holistic support service that addresses the financial, safety, capacity, and human obstacles threatening their work and livelihood.

    In collaboration with Changemakers on the ground, and following research on “Universal Basic Income” and “cash-transfer” projects, we have set up a 3-step approach:

    1. Changemakers are selected based on merit and influence in their community.
    1. Changemakers must commit and adhere to the HRD mandate as stipulated by the United Nations’ OHCHR (Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders).
    1. Changemakers will receive UBI support equivalent to 100 EUR/month, with a 100 EUR/Month increase for every year of participation in the program.

    Changemakers are required to remain active in their peace building role in order to receive support. The support can be withdrawn by The Hague Peace Projects at any time in the event of a breach of collaboration terms.

    Key benefits:

    1. Providing financial support for HRDs significantly helps to sustain their human rights activities and improve their safety.

    2. Increasing the capacity for local impact greatly reduces the need for complex logistical structures and projects.

    3. Custom training modules provide tools and skills for Changemakers to safely and more effectively pursue their human rights work.

    4. Investment in community building strengthens human rights communities and grows valuable connections.

    5. Providing emotional support addresses the often over-looked component of the traumatic experiences of many of our participants, and connects our beneficiaries with professional healthcare when needed.

    The Changemakers Program aims to strengthen the role of civil society, as enshrined in the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as a means for HRDs to influence social change and exercise their democratic rights in the face of rising authoritarianism.

    Components

    Community Building

    With regular contact and meaningful engagement between our participants we encourage peer-to-peer networking to build and grow valuable connections that strengthen human rights communities and enable Changemakers to better navigate civil society and its institutions.

    UBI Support

    A Universal Basic Income support for Changemakers to provide a minimal financial security net that contributes to the basic needs and safety of our program beneficiaries.

    Capacity Building

    Changemakers receive training in cybersecurity, personal safety, and communications, with a focus on social media, successful campaigning, and capacity building.

    Emotional Support

    The Changemakers Program provides mental health support to help cope with the difficult circumstances inherent to the nature of their work and to connect them with professional help when needed.

    UBI Scope and Costs

    Changemakers:

    • in their first year of the program receive 1.200 EUR.
    • in their second year of the program receive 2.400 EUR.
    • in their third year of the program receive 3.600 EUR.
    • in their fourth year of the program receive 4.800 EUR.
    • in their fifth year of the program receive 6.000 EUR.
    • in their sixth year of the program receive 7.200 EUR.
    • in their seventh year of the program receive 8.400 EUR.

    Operational costs:

    • The operational costs of the project average 72.000 EUR per year. This includes staff, technology, and operating costs.

    Timeframe:

    The Changemakers is a 7-year program that aims to provide support and a basic income supplement to 500 Human Rights Defenders and Activists in Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

    With every 1.200 EUR, we make this reality possible for another Changemaker!

    Donate

    By donating to the Changemakers Program you can make an immediate difference to human rights struggles across the world!

    Connect

    Do you want to recommend someone for this program? Is this for you? Please feel free to get in touch and send us your stories!