I think about international advocacy as an effective and successful tool to promote and defend human rights. I see it, in my daily work as an International officer, as a way to bring to the table and highlight the importance of respecting and promoting human rights beyond borders, and more importantly as a means of accountability; holding accountable international actors for their foreign policy and their human rights policies abroad.
International advocacy is a tool to remind international actors and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) about their responsibilities with human rights all around the world. It serves to remind the other nations who invest internationally, such as Canada, that there are international standards to be complied with outside of its borders, such as those regarding consultation and previous, free and informed consent which have to be agreed to before imposing a “development” megaproject. International advocacy is a tool to remind nations and IGOs of their commitments to the international community to promote and comply with their commitments outside of their borders.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative is an example of the outstanding coordination of international advocacy strategies with partner organizations in the ground. All the activities around the Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict are proof of it. In the context like Mexico, given that not all local women’s rights or human rights organizations have the capacity or the resources to establish such kind of strategies, it is really important to have committed counterparts around the world, such as the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, among many others in order to make visible the deterioration of the situation of human rights and women’s rights in the country; to expose those paradigmatic cases, which exemplify the structural causes of violations of human rights in Mexico, as a mean to bring some international pressure to the State to comply with its international commitments on human rights;
The latest and successful participation of many local and international human rights and women’s rights organizations in the context of the review of Mexico by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) last July, is an example of how international advocacy serves to denounce the violations of women’s rights but also to promote and bring to the table proposals to make a real change. The group of “CEDAW-Ciudadanas” – a large delegation of more than 113 organizations from Mexico from diverse women’s movement – took the lead to denounce the appalling situation of women human rights defenders and journalists in Mexico, among other equally concerning issues.
It is true that structural changes are difficult to see in context such as the one living in Mexico, (or Sudan and Palestine for that matter), but international advocacy goes beyond it sometimes. I remember the day when the team of the Nobel Women’s Initiative introduced us to part of the advocacy strategies in the Campaign; and how some of these at the end had some impact on the decision of local authorities, who could start to make commitments in very concrete cases of rape in a context like the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a way to make the difference in a person’s life and that is a life-changing opportunity for women who otherwise will never even expect to reach justice.
The first participants of the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program have returned to home after a six-week training in Ottawa and are now working with the Nobel Women’s Initiative to implement short-term projects to support women’s rights in Mexico, Sudan, and Palestine.