Rights CoLab is pleased to announce that it has joined forces with the Prague Centre for Civil Society, the Social Innovations Advisory and the West Africa Civil Society Institute to launch a new web-based platform devoted to Mapping Civil Society Innovation to Advance Human Rights.
Collectively, we envision the site as a rich repository of information to support civil society innovation, pooling common practical resources as well as insights drawn from both achievements and challenges. More and more groups are exploring opportunities to organise and resource human rights activities in novel ways, and we hope that others will join this effort to share their ideas and experiences.
Each of the founding organisations is actively advising and assisting groups searching for new ways to achieve human rights aims while avoiding some of the pitfalls of the traditional human rights organisational model, comprised of a legal structure (typically a non-profit, charitable association or foundation) and a revenue model (typically charitable grants).
While we have come to depend on such civil society organisations (CSOs) or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for the realisation of human rights, that particular model – particularly when a CSO’s revenue comes mostly or exclusively in the form of grants from outside the country where it operates – has made them vulnerable to financial insecurity as well as a political attack on the grounds of perceived illegitimacy.
Where governments have severely restricted the operations or very existence of CSOs, alternative organisational forms — driven by growing trends in social entrepreneurship, impact investment, voluntarism & technological and generational change — can carry out some of the same functions. These new organisational forms, and the broader range of revenue models they encompass, also offer the promise of enhanced sustainability.
The site is intended to serve as a platform for all those exploring alternatives to the traditional organisational form for human rights activities. We hope to identify more content providers that are motivated to join the collaboration, and we encourage all who are experimenting with civil society innovation to advance human rights to join in.
Together, we hope to build a healthy and rigorous transnational community of civil society innovators working collaboratively to supplement and reinforce the already extensive transnational CSO networks we have come to depend on for promoting and protecting human rights.
The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) strengthens civil society in West Africa to be responsive, collaborative, representative, resilient and influential through knowledge sharing, learning, connecting and influencing.
Social Innovations Advisory focuses on helping NGOs in China build resilience by diversifying their access to local resources and funding, and helping Chinese and international NGOs to address the challenges and risks posed by Chinese investment in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Prague Civil Society Centre aims to enable civic groups to connect with their communities and improve people’s lives by empowering and supporting civil societies across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Rights CoLab advances human rights by fostering collaboration among experts across the fields of civil society, technology, business, and finance. Together we build new ways of organizing civic engagement and leveraging markets to improve the impact, resilience, and sustainability of human rights initiatives.