30, April, 2014

ELLA Learning Alliance on Human Rights – Module 1: A Framework to Protect and Defend Human Rights

The advancement of human rights is a persistent challenge in the global South. Participants in an online learning programme from Asia, Africa and Latin America reflected on the usefulness of establishing and enforcing legal frameworks to protect and defend human rights.

The ELLA Learning Alliance (LEA) on Human Rights was a four-month online learning exchange involving participants from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, predominantly policymakers, practitioners and researchers working on human rights issues in their respective countries and regions. Each week the ELLA Moderators made thematic posts in the online learning space, highlighting examples of Latin American policy and practice aimed at protecting human rights. Best practice and methodologies from Latin America were shared with participants in the form of briefs and videos made by regional experts. Based on a set of guiding questions, participants were invited to share experiences of how different actors in their countries are working to protect and defend human rights. 

This document summarises the first module of the online LEA during which experts and participants discussed the institutions and mechanisms that enable governments and civil society to promote and guarantee human rights.  These rich discussions allowed participants to explore similarities and contrasts between Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and to identify issues and conclusions that seem to be critical for the different themes.

The goal was for participants to learn about and debate the role of national and international legal frameworks in promoting, defending, protecting and guaranteeing human rights. By reviewing the legal frameworks that protect and defend human rights in Latin America and comparing them with frameworks in Africa and Asia, online discussions concluded that establishing laws and institutions is highly important, and represents a significant milestone towards strengthening human rights in any country/region. Although establishing national legal frameworks is an important step, enforcement and proper implementation are fundamental to success.

The LEA was moderated by experts from FUNDAR, with guest experts from Latin America invited to share their perspectives and experiences during the online debate.

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Key Conclusions:

  • A comprehensive approach to protecting human rights consists of the following three factors: formal recognition of the existence of human rights; harmonisation of the human rights perspective from international treaties within domestic law; and establishment of an effective human rights legal framework implemented with sufficient financial, human and infrastructure resources.
  • Strategic litigation is an important tool for defending human rights since the rulings of individual cases can set precedents and lead to structural changes in legal systems. Emblematic cases usually represent common violations of human rights and can serve to mobilise civil society around a particular cause, thereby building public demand for the safeguarding of human rights.
  • Countries interested in designing and implementing effective legal frameworks for human rights can learn from similar experiences in other regions of the global South.

ELLA knowledge material produced by:

Other ELLA knowledge materials relating to Indigenous and Ethnic Minority Rights:





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