Advocating for human rights is speaking out on issues and taking action to defend human rights. The roles that human rights advocates play in today’s societies are wide. You will most often find that a significant number of celebrities and people present in the public domain advocate for human rights of a certain marginalized group by using their channels of influence. This is most often done through media in order to spread the message and draw public’s attention to a certain issue. However, you do not have to become a celebrity or other type of public person in order to become a human rights advocate. All you need is dedication, time and will. Therefore, this article outlines basic steps you have to take in order to become a human rights advocate.
#1. Find a Cause
According to the United Nations on Human Rights Defenders ”everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”. Becoming a human rights advocate means undertaking important advocacy steps in order to change certain policies related to human rights as well as the practices often implemented by national and local governments. However, prior to becoming a human rights advocate it is important to ask yourself the following question ’What am I mostly passionate about?’. Of course, this question relates to which domain of human rights you are mostly dedicated to. These could be minority rights, rights of people with disabilities or perhaps sexual reproductive rights. It is important to deal with one issue at a time and stay focused on it. You can either focus on an issue affecting your local community or on an issue affecting some of the communities in the world. What is most important is that you feel connected and passionate about a cause.
#2. Do Your Research
The second step of becoming a human rights advocate is to do a thorough research of the issue of human rights violations you have decided to dedicate to. It is really important to get informed. This can be done by reading newspapers, magazines and reports that contain information on human rights issues. However, nowadays one of the most appropriate and quickest methods to do research of a certain issue is by using the Internet. The Internet offers wide range of articles and reports that contain different perspectives. You can use the Internet to research the causes and the historical perspective of the issue. In addition, you can research laws and policies implemented by the governments in your state and local communities that relate to the protection of human rights. You can use the Internet to join social media groups and read different opinions of the members of your local community regarding the human rights areas you are dealing with. Lastly, if you think of yourself as an open and communicative person you can simply go out and approach members of your community and hear their views and perspectives on the issue. A detailed research will provide you with enough information in order to be able to later on develop interesting advocacy ideas.
#3. Join a Human Rights Non-Profit
It is really hard sometimes to take first steps in advocacy by yourself. It really helps when you are surrounded by individuals and groups who share the same passion and ideas as you. Therefore, one of the best ways to start your advocacy career in human rights area is to join a human rights non-profit organization that deals closely with issues you are interested it. It is much easier to work with people who share your interests in order to achieve your goals. Most often people who do share passion for same human rights issues gather in local human rights profits and associations. Human rights non-profit and non-governmental organizations are usually the largest advocates of human rights respect. They are also the most vocal types of institutions when it comes to drawing public’s attention to violation of human rights. Members of human rights organizations come from different background, i.e. doctors, teachers, students and similar, and with their expertise contribute to human rights advocacy. Hence, once you find yourself surrounded by individuals with same or similar ideas you will become more encouraged to take the necessary steps in human rights advocacy.
#4. Join a Campaign
Once you join a human rights non-profit organization you can either join an already ongoing campaign or start your own. You will be free to offer your ideas and perspectives on how a human rights advocacy campaign should function and contain. In order to really advocate again certain human rights violations you have to be able to reach the wider public and raise their consciousness about the certain issue. You also have to be able to put a pressure on the government through different channels of influence in order for it to start implementing proper human rights policies or stop breaching them. Luckily, you will be surrounded by a team of people who will have a same goal as you. There are many different ways you can lead a campaign and let your voice be heard. For example, you can use social media outlets, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to spread a message. People can use these outlets to exchange ideas and learn one from another. You can also organize peaceful demonstrations and invite different media outlets. One of the possibilities is also to reach out to celebrities and invite them to support your campaign. The options are endless and you just have to be creative and ‘’think outside the box’’.
#5. Don’t in Be In It For the Money
As with almost every aspect of human rights area, you should not expect to earn money from human rights advocacy. If you decide to join a human rights non-profit organization or start a campaign, you will, in majority of cases, join as a volunteer. Therefore, being a human rights advocate means helping people in need and advocating for their rights while not expecting to achieve a personal gain.