Beyond Equality: A Manual for Human Rights Defenders

Authors: Mahnaz Afkhami & Ann Eisenberg

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A quick review of recent news headlines reveals the world’s growing detachment from finding solutions to human rights issues and, increasingly, shows that states are using human rights as a political bludgeon to chastise their opponents. The result is that where once human rights served as a near- universal benchmark for social progress, today their value and relevance is frequently challenged by young idealists and old tyrants alike.

Since 9/11, human rights have been marginalized at multiple levels of governance, from local to global. The trend toward more robust language and policies grounded in the human rights framework has given way to an international emphasis on promoting democracy as an end in itself. Security has become the counterpoint to freedom, with the former supplanting the latter in the unbounded “war on terror.” And to some extent, the terrorists are winning, in as much as they have convinced millions that their atavistic, tyrannical, and violent regimes are expressions of devout religion. More than a decade later, we are witnessing the harm caused by excessive security measures, such as the U.S.’s Patriot Act, to combat violent extremism that poses as religious orthodoxy.

 The young intellectuals are all chanting, 'Revolution,Revolution,' but I say revolution will have to start in our homes, by achieving equal rights for women. 
— Qiu Jin
Chinese Poet and Activist

In conversations over the past few years, WLP’s partners and colleagues have expressed their deep dismay over the global human rights situation and the air of helplessness in the human rights advocacy community. Today, there is a great need to revisit the fundamentals of universal human rights and examine what answers they provide to the rapidly evolving technological, political, and economic conditions around the world.

This manual is meant to serve as a tool for reigniting conversations about the relevance of human rights to the struggle for women’s freedom and advancement. We hope it will introduce new generations of activists to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights mechanisms. For those already well acquainted with international human rights law, the manual’s workshop sessions can provide a forum for frank conversation about the contradictions and conflicts that arise in promoting human rights and can help advocates develop new strategies for addressing them.

Table of Contents (excerpt)

  • Who We Are
  • WLP's Mission and Principles
  • Description of Project
  • Why This Manual Now?
  • Structure of The Manual
  • Guidelines
  • The World We Seek: Human Rights In The 21st Century
  • Part 1: Women's Human Rights Workshop Sessions
    • Session 1: What Are Human Rights?
    • Session 2: Human Dignity, Physical Integrity, and the Rights of Husbands and Wives
    • Session 3: Women's Participation in Public Life
    • Session 4: Equity Versus Equality
    • Session 5: Advocacy and Action: Women Speaking Out
    • Session 6: Legal Rights and Justice for Women Human Rights Defenders
    • Session 7: Security Versus Freedom: Which Rights Prevail?
    • Session 8: Freedom of Belief and Religion
    • Session 9: Preserving Traditions Versus Protecting Human Rights
    • Session 10: Human Rights and Violent Conflict
  • Part 2: Using the International Tools To Defend Women's Rights
    • Introduction
    • Session 11: Women’s Rights Protections In General International Human Rights Instruments
    • Session 12: Women’s Rights in International Instruments Drafted Explicitly for the Protection of Women
    • Session 13: Women’s Rights in War: Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security
    • Session 14: International Human Rights Bodies that Accept Complaints Submitted by Organizations or Individuals
  • Participation Evaluation Form
    • Participant Evaluation
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • Appendix B. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    • Appendix C. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    • Appendix D. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
    • Appendix E. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
    • Appendix F: Human Rights Committees That Monitor Human Rights Treaty Compliance
    • Appendix G: Special Procedures: List (partial) of Selected UN Human Rights Experts, Special Rapporteurs, and Working Groups

Beyond Equality: A Manual for Human Rights Defenders (2015) (193 pages)
English Edition ISBN: 978-1-939525-63-5 $0.00

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