Human Rights and Social Justice Advocacy Groups


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The primary emphasis of many of the organizations listed here is to advocate on behalf of victims of human rights violations. These violations may include war crimes, torture, slavery, denial of basic needs for survival, ethnic discrimination or denial of self-determination (e.g. apartheid). Almost all countries in the world today have ratified the principle international treaties of international human rights and humanitarian (armed conflict) law. In the case of grave breaches, there is no statute of limitations for prosecution of the perpetrators and they may be apprehended in any country they visit, even if they are government officials.

However, the laws are only as good as their enforcement. In addition to specific international criminal tribunals, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (renamed the Human Rights Council in 2006) oversees this huge task. Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in giving birth to the U.N. commission, along with Rene Cassin, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for authoring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Regional bodies like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights also exercise jurisdiction when it comes to international treaties, as do many national courts.

Today, the U.N. Human Rights Council gets considerable attention from governments, many of whom are anxious to minimize their liability for violations. Their delegates engage in damage control lobbying each year at the sessions at the U.N. complex in Geneva. It is only thanks to the efforts of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's ), along with a few socially conscious governments, that resolutions continue to be adopted condemning human rights violators.

Although progress through the committees moves slow, resolutions by the council occasionally lead to action by the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council. For instance, U.N. intervention in the war in El Salvador during the 1980's led to an end to that conflict when rebelling factions became part of the government. The Commission also played a role in bringing about an end to apartheid in South Africa, and later pressed for an end to crippling economic sanctions targetted against the civilian population of Iraq.

The U.N. Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights contains a searchable database of reports, resolutions and other documents relating to the activities of the Human Rights Council and related bodies.

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Optional Index:

International Advocacy Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's)

  • Amnesty International
  • Association of Humanitarian Lawyers
  • Committee for the Protection of Journalists
  • Center for World Indigenous Studies Formerly the Fourth World Documentation Project.
  • Coalition for the International Criminal Court - ICC Sponsored by a network of 2,000 NGO'S.
  • Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres Worldwide medical relief organization.
  • Cultural Survival Defending indigenous cultures.
  • Gendercide Watch
  • Global Fund for Women
  • Human Rights First Formerly Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Human Trafficking - Polaris Project
  • International Educational Development - Humanitarian Law Project (IED HLP)
  • International Federation of Human Rights Leagues - FIDH Based in Paris.
  • International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
  • International Peace Bureau
  • MADRE Women's advocacy and support organization.
  • The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights - NNIRR
  • Peace Brigades International Including extensive links to Guatemala and Columbia support groups.
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • The Advocates for Human Rights Based in Minnesota.
  • Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition - TASSC
  • Trafficking in women and children: various websites
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • Women for Women International Innovative group that provides resources to women in the former Yugoslavia, Africa and South America.

    See also International Development, Disaster Relief Organizations, Women's Organizations,

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    Religious Organizations

  • Find more groups in the directories at the end of this page
  • American Friends Service Committee Philadelphia based headquarters of the Quakers.
  • International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity Coaltion of Catholic development groups based in Belgium.
  • Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico Cleveland based advocacy group supported by a coalition of churches.
  • Jubilee USA Religious coalition working to eliminate third world debt.
  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
  • Quixote Center
  • Network: Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Simon Wiesenthal Center Leading Jewish advocacy organization.
  • World Council of Churches

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    Groups with a Country-Specific or Regional Focus

  • Revolutionary Assoc. of the Women of Afghanistan - RAWA Provides education to women and reports on human rights crimes.
  • Al-Haq Online Palestinian NGO.
  • Algeria Watch Based in Germany.
  • Arab Association for Human Rights Supporting the Palestinians.
  • Ahmadi Muslims Fighting Persecution The Ahmadis are the subject of government sanctioned discrimination in Pakistan.
  • Center for Rehabilitation and Abolition of Torture In Cameroon.
  • Canadian Friends of Burma
  • East Timor Action Network East Timor is in Indonesia.
  • Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network - EMHRN
  • Haiti - National Coalition for Haitian Rights
  • Human Rights in China
  • Guatemala Human Rights Commission, USA
  • HURIGHTS Osaka Promotes human rights in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights
  • Israeli Human Rights and Peace Groups
  • Kashmiri-Canadian Council
  • Maluku - Moluccas International Campaign for Human Rights
  • La Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos
  • National Human Rights Commission of Nepal
  • Rights Action for Mexico, Central America and Peru
  • SPUR - Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

    See also Resistance Movements and Solidarity Groups

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    Other Directories

  • Sex Trafficking Organizations
  • University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
  • Derechos NGO Directory Links in spanish and english.

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