10 STEPS TO BECOMING A HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE
Choose a human rights issue.
What are the biggest problems you are observing in your community or that you hear about in the news? Is there a particular issue you feel passionate about? What is most important to you? Write out a definition of exactly what you want to address. Deal with just one problem at a time and stay focused.
Identify the related human rights.
Learn about what human rights are connected to your problem. Download a copy of the UDHR at www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ and choose the human rights most relevant to your issue.
Research the Issue.
Get informed on your issue. Read newspapers, magazines,and reports that discuss the problem. Call or write letters to organizations and officials asking for information. Collect statistics. If appropriate, survey your community. Learn what your government is doing to address the issue. Find out what your state or national laws say. Find out who is already taking action on the issue.
Decide on a course of action.
Try to understand the root causes behind the problem. Brainstorm ideas that would help to address those root causes and choose one or two actions that seem the most possible and likely to make the biggest difference. Consider some of these human rights advocacy methods.
It is often easier to work with other people to achieve your goals. Build a coalition of support. Find other organizations and individuals who are concerned about the problem and agree with your solution. Try to get support from as many different sectors as possible - teachers, officials, students, businesses, community groups. The more people on your team, the more power you will have to make a difference.
Identify your opposition.
Find out who the people and organizations are that oppose your solution. They may not be the "bad guys" but people with different opinions. Consider meeting with your opponents; you might be able to work out a compromise. It is important to try to understand each other’s point of view. Always be polite and respectful of other opinions.
Make an action plan.
Make an action plan. Make a list of all the steps you need to take to implement your chosen action. Who will do them? When and where will these actions happen? What is the desired result? Will you need to raise money to fund your idea? If possible, practice the action before you carry out your plan.
Let as many people as possible know about the problem you are trying to solve and your proposed solution. Newspapers, radio, and television are usually interested in stories of action. Some TV and radio stations offer free air time for worthy projects. Write a letter to the editor. The more people who know about what you are doing, the more who may want to support you.
Carry out your plan and do not give up if things do not work out exactly as planned. Making change happen takes time. Problem solving means eliminating all the things that do not work until you find something that does.
Evaluate and follow-up.
After you have taken your action, take time to think and talk about what happened. Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve? How do you know? What could you have done better? Try to define some indicators for what progress means. Are some efforts effective and others not? Have you tried everything? Keep thinking creatively about how to solve the problem and decide on what to do next.
The Advocates for Human Rights
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Minneapolis, MN 55401
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