NESRI believes that social movements led by those directly impacted are the best route towards sustainable and progressive social change. Developing strong social movements depends on a compelling and unifying vision that is shared by the whole movement. The human rights framework can provide this vision because it offers a broad platform for common action, language, and focus, and speaks to a set of universal values.
Building the Vision
To grow support for this vision throughout U.S. social change efforts, human rights concepts, standards and strategies must be accessible to activists and human rights advocacy models tailored for the United States must be developed. Most importantly, community-based organizations – particularly ones constituted and led by those most affected by human rights violations – must be capacitated to play a central role in disseminating and applying the framework. History has shown that the leadership and participation of those most affected is one of the main ingredients of sustainable social change.
For these reasons, NESRI seeks to develop participatory approaches to using human rights, and to collaborate with community-based partners in an environment of “learning while doing” while being a strong advocacy partner. From these partnerships, best practices emerge for incorporating human rights into U.S. social justice campaigns. NESRI develops partnerships on issues that: (1) resonate in a wide range of localities, (2) have potential to move policy, (3) demonstrate the value of human rights, and (4) are likely to build popular support for human rights. These partnerships are the seeds or building blocks of change.
Building the Movement
While partnerships are the building blocks of change, coalitions and networks can amplify and reinforce the local efforts by exchanging human rights strategies and best practices across localities and creating shared learning. NESRI plays a strong role in building and facilitating these exchanges. The partnership projects, in tandem with networks and coalitions, seek to create strategic depth, replicable models, and a base of strong and diverse stakeholders in the U.S. human rights movement.
These growing networks create national trends under a common vision. To create lasting change, however, the growing human rights networks on a range of issues must become linked and unified to move an integrated human rights agenda that challenges current models of privatization, criminalization and inequitable distribution of resources. In simpler terms, we must draw new lines in the sand where poverty and stark inequities are no longer tolerated in any corridor of our society, and we become a country deeply committed to a global vision of inclusion, equity and basic rights for all.