On June 18-20, 2019, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito hosted a 3-day interregional workshop on strategic human rights litigation for the protection of civic space. Human rights lawyers from across Africa and Latin America discussed the pressing challenges to civic space in their respective countries, and collaborated on how to utilize the African and Inter-American regional human rights mechanisms to protect freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association – the fundamental rights that, when respected, facilitate civic space.
Through a combination of presentations, case studies, and roundtable discussions facilitated by human rights trainer and Inter-American expert Andrea Galindo, participants from Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Uganda, Liberia, the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and South Africa explored how to navigate and utilize regional and international human rights systems. Participants compared their experiences with human rights mechanisms in their regions, weighing the benefits and differences, and strategizing how interregional collaboration may help advance their efforts to protect civic space. In addition, recognizing that the law is only one tool to affect social change, participants discussed how other tools such as advocacy, media, campaigns, or community mobilization can be used along with litigation to shift public attitudes and achieve desired change, especially as litigation tends to be a lengthy and costly pursuit.
The interregional workshop is part of an ongoing project on interregional collaboration for the protection of civic space that Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is implementing with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy of the United States.