Human Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI)

Project Granted in May, 2008

Project Completed November 2010

The goal of the Iraq Human Rights Advocacy Initiative was to empower Iraqi human rights leaders in civil society to be better advocates for human rights. The Iraq Foundation implimented a basket of initiatives designed to consolidate Iraq’s budding human rights community into a strong, broad-based advocacy coalition pressing to hold the Iraqi government accountable for the state of Iraqis’ civil and political liberties. The initiatives were designed and synchronized to be mutually enhancing and reinforcing.

The project had four objectives:

1) Launch a media and grassroots advocacy campaign to press the Iraqi government on ratification and adherence to international human rights conventions;

2) Raise human rights awareness at the grassroots level across the country through a nationwide, decentralized public education campaign;

3) Strengthen the monitoring, reporting, networking and advocacy skills of the human rights coalition members;

4) Assist the coalition to develop its human rights documentation and monitoring into official shadow reports to present at the UN Human Rights Council.

Iraq Foundation’s guiding strategic principles for the project were:

  • Creating country-wide linkages and a truly national human rights coalition
  • Pressuring the government to improve its commitment and ability to protect all Iraqis
  • Working with government officials and members of parliament to coalesce around the causes led by prominent civil society actors
  • Joining the forces of grassroots, national and international advocacy channels’ at both non-governmental and governmental levels—to raise awareness about Iraq’s human rights situation and demand change
  • Taking full advantage of the relatively free, diverse media environment in Iraq as a vehicle for advocacy and public awareness
  • Creating long-term sustainability for coalition advocacy actions on the most fundamental human rights violations

Iraq Foundation provided expert training in human rights monitoring, report writing and advocacy message development, and facilitated advocacy coalition building activities, small grants activity, radio and TV campaigns, regular reporting on the human rights situation and shadow reports for presentation at Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva by Iraqi advocates. IF also facilitated two trips by NGO leaders to attend the Human Rights Council meetings. Iraq Foundation’s implementing partner, a lebanon-based NGO, provided leading advocates with new skills in advocacy and coalition building around human rights violations. A California-based NGO provided all coalition members and the trainers exposure to Martus software with the goal of unifying and systematizing the documentation and retrieval of human rights violations data. All project interventions worked in synergy, providing leading Iraqi human rights advocates with both new skills and new opportunities to press for adherence to universal principles of human rights.