Ford Awards Seven Human Rights Organizations $1 Million Each to Become Global Leaders

Jul 18, 2012, 11:15 ET from Ford Foundation

Honoring Nelson Mandela Day, Ford Foundation Announces Major Initiative to Lift New Generation of Human Rights Voices from the Global South

'To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity' -- Nelson Mandela

NEW YORK, July 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ford Foundation today announced the first round of grants in a new five-year, $50 million initiative to strengthen and diversify the global human rights movement to face the challenges of a changing world.

In launching the initiative, the foundation announced awards of $1 million each to seven human rights groups from the Global South, each of which is poised to make the leap to the world stage and contribute to a broader, more inclusive dialogue on the rights issues facing the world's most poor and marginalized people. 

"The seminal and enormously successful human rights groups that Ford has funded for decades – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and many others – are more important today than ever," said Luis A. Ubinas, president of the Ford Foundation.  "What today's grants recognize is how powerful the idea of human rights has become in every corner of the world, and how much growth there has been in recent years among rights organizations in the South. We need to bring those southern hemisphere voices into the global human rights dialogue."

The first seven winners of Ford funding are:

  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia, Bangkok)
  • Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia, Bogota)
  • Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS, Buenos Aires)
  • Conectas Direitos Humanos (Sao Paulo)
  • Justica Global (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC, Nairobi)
  • Legal Resources Centre (LRC, Johannesburg)

"This initiative builds on the seminal human rights voices of the past while opening a door for the human rights visionaries of the future," said Maya Harris, vice president of Democracy, Rights and Justice at the Ford Foundation.  "For human rights to thrive and grow at the global level we must deepen the movement and include those who are closest to the challenges and closest to the solutions."

By linking the announcement of the seven winners to Nelson Mandela International Day – the South African leader's 94th birthday – the foundation is putting its money behind the idea that the global human rights agenda is best advanced by a diverse array of organizations that includes emerging voices from the Global South.

"The Nelson Mandela Foundation welcomes this initiative to support human rights causes in regions where societies continue to grapple with complex historical social and economic divisions," said Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which partners with the United Nations in honoring Nelson Mandela Day.

The Ford Foundation said its new initiative on strengthening human rights worldwide would commit $50 million over the next five years to both new and established human rights organizations. In selecting organizations to support, the foundation said it would place emphasis on groups whose work focuses on improving the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world, people whose rights are routinely denied or abused.

"It is essential for the human rights community to meet the challenges of a changing world head on," said Martin Abregu, the Ford Foundation's director of Human Rights and Governance. "We've identified some of the most exciting voices in the field today, who are ready to take the lead in the next phase of the movement."

Background on the Winners
Since it was founded in 1991, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia, Bangkok) has developed into a leading regional human rights organization, with 49 member organizations across 17 countries and offices in Bangkok, Geneva, and Jakarta. The organization fosters advocacy, coalition building, documentation and capacity building among human rights organizations, building a regional human rights movement able to hold Asian states more accountable to their human rights obligations.

Colombian academics founded Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia, Bogota) in 2003 as a center for applied research that seeks to influence public opinion, academic debate, and public policy. Its creative and effective work on discrimination, social rights, judicial reform, transitional justice, and the rule of law, is carried out in collaboration with leading social organizations, research centers, and human rights advocates in Colombia and abroad.

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS, Buenos Aires) was founded in Buenos Aires in 1979 in response to forced disappearances and other atrocities under Argentina's dictatorship. After the return to civilian rule, CELS broadened its agenda to include the human rights impacts of national security policies, judicial reform, criminal justice and economic, social and cultural rights. In recent years, CELS has decided to expand efforts to bring a Global South and Latin American perspective to the global human rights agenda.

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Conectas Direitos Humanos (Sao Paulo) is an international human rights organization working across the Global South on issues that are central to the Ford Foundation initiative, such as the role of emerging powers and of civil society in promoting human rights. Through collaboration, convenings, and a respected journal, Conectas advances the debate, while strengthening human rights mechanisms in a changing geopolitical order.

Justica Global (Rio de Janeiro) was founded in 1999 to strengthen Brazilian civil society and democracy, enhance access to justice, and promote reform. Justica Global has close ties with grassroots groups and a reputation for publishing hard-hitting reports on violations that have prompted reforms in key areas such as police violence, death squads, the criminalization of social movements, prison abuses, agrarian reform and human rights violations caused by large-scale infrastructure projects and Brazil's upcoming hosting of the World Cup and Olympic Games.

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC, Nairobi) was founded in 1992 to address the root causes of poverty, deprivation and human rights violations through research and documentation, legislative and policy advocacy, legal aid, public interest litigation and other strategies. Building on their experience with election violence, constitutional reform, and international criminal justice, KHRC has much to contribute to the international debate on human rights.

Based in Johannesburg, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC, Johannesburg) has played a leading role in defining and protecting the rights of vulnerable people and all South Africans since 1979 through their work as a client-based public interest law clinic. They are looking to influence international policies and practices by sharing their model and experience throughout Africa.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For over 75 years it has worked with courageous people 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. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. 




SOURCE Ford Foundation