Why a Human Rights Lab?

As part of a transnational community of advocates and scholars who bridge Global South and North divides, our leadership has been participating in exchanges about the changing landscape in human rights for over a decade.

The Lab's founder and director identified major structural transformations that have unmoored human rights advocacy as it was known. We focus on three of them: the emergence of multipolarity, where centers of political, cultural and economic power have multiplied and diversified; the growth and diversity of human rights actors and activists; and the rise of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) as challenges and opportunities for effective activism.

In this new context longstanding and new challenges for human rights advocacy have acquired new urgency. For example, the dominance of legal frameworks and legal experts in the field has pushed it forward, but it has also limited the vision and scope of the movement, as well as the diversity of expertise in the service of human rights causes.

Challenges, however, are also opportunities. One such opportunity is in the development of strong, home-grown advocacy and engagement in the Global South that can contribute to balance and complement the power of Global North human rights organizations and can help the Global South strengthen its voice in setting the global human rights agenda.


Advocates recognize these and other challenges as common, recurrent obstacles to effective advocacy

The Lab creates the conditions to think jointly about these dilemmas, and address them effectively as a community



We create the space and provide the tools for different actors to develop initiatives jointly, incubate new approaches, and test their viability and sustainability for making a long-term, measurable impact across the human rights field. 

We assist in the incubation and iteration period, and facilitate creative burst sessions where prior periods of coordinated deep thinking give way to intensive problem solving workshops.   

read more about our methodology



Our theory of change is simple:

The Lab provides the scaffolding for collaborative problem solving in human rights, and helps make the fruit of this labor open and available to the human rights community.

When new and effective approaches to human rights advocacy are perfected, disseminated and implemented by the human rights community at large, the entire field advances.

Better, more effective human rights advocacy methods empower more people to demand and enjoy their human rights.