The Power of Rights

Open society and human rights are intimately bound together: one cannot today imagine either without the other. The threats to one are threats to both. The advance of one means the advance of both. The energetic defense and enlargement of human rights diminishes exploitation, oppression, and impunity.  Free expression, critical thinking, pluralistic debate all thrive in nations rich in rights and advance open society.

The Open Society Foundations have long been, and will remain, one of the world’s leading supporters of those defending and promoting human rights.

From New Orleans to Kampala to Jakarta, the Open Society Foundations have backed efforts to establish and protect the rights of all. And that commitment to the rights of all has required special commitment to minority rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the rights of physically and intellectually disabled people. We have supported international and transitional justice as well as efforts to press governments to protect and champion human rights themselves.

Today, commitments to human rights are under pressure everywhere.  Even while broad social movements grab attention with demands for bread, justice, and dignity, governments of all stripes are finding excuses to weaken their resolve, to let the cause slip away. Commitments are postponed or abandoned, defenders of rights are attacked as foreign agents or worse. And within the human rights movement itself, questions are raised about the use of force in defense of rights, about the particular ideologies embedded in universal claims, about the links between prosperity and rights.

We will resist the pressures that threaten rights and urge us to compromise our commitments. At the same time, we will continually revisit, revise, and strengthen the concepts that underpin our commitments and that give rights power in the world. When people see their rights eroded in countries where those same rights have so recently had the strongest champions, what are they to do? When claiming one’s rights is said to insult one’s family, to disrespect one’s tribe, to betray one’s nation, what is one to do, what are we all to do? Are the international human rights mechanisms our best safeguards, or must we build new structures for the defense of rights? If independent media have been essential to the advance of rights, how are we to understand the existential dangers that confront journalism today? What do human rights mean for millions of desperate individuals and families beyond the protection of law, beyond the reach of any human rights defender?  These are not just theoretical questions: they pose choices with life-and-death consequences for thousands every day. Even as we continue to act in support of human rights and open society, we must face these questions and integrate our answers—however tentative—in our actions.

We must intensify the conversation about the future of human rights and how best to promote their growth. Please join us.

66 Comments

Bono is no role model on human rights to be on the video!

The most evident results of protecting human rights may be seen in some African, Asian countries. But in post-Soviet countries where the democracy is under the process of developing it is so difficult to fight for your human dignity against the power of so easy and quick made money, when politicians are in the top list of the richest residents of the country!!!

Yet again your organization pinpoints the value of supporting such initiatives on behalf of 'Democracy' and 'Individual Rights and Freedoms'...congratulations and thank you!
With Economic flat-lining the situation of intervening with our Democratic tool bag will see increasing pressures across the spectrum and the demand for continuing services or interventions will begin to create a divergence of resources against demands times the added rules & reg's; therefor perpetuating cost increases...what is the economic plan to deal with this?

These OSI films are so beautifully done. I look forward to each of them.

With regards to human rights, because I am from the Deep South, born in 1942, I have spent my life working for human rights. It began in Atlanta in 1960, progressed to Cuba in 1968 where I learned so much. Then on to London where I lived and worked and met people struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. They all said they were so much better off than in their home countries. Then to Jordan where I lived with the Palestinians at the start of Black September in 1970. Visited the camps, schools, orphanages. Met with their leaders, doctors, women who worked tirelessly every minute of the day. Then back to the US to live, work and study on a Lakota Indian Reservation. All of this was done one-on-one. Not through a grant. Not through any organization. Each of us can do something every day, however small, to touch someone's life. This week my elevator was broken so I walked up the back stairs. There were two homeless African-Amerian men sitting on the stairs drinking and smoking. They were shocked to see me. They jumped up scared and afraid I would call the police on them. I sat on the stairs with them for an hour and asked them about their lives, where they lived, how they found themselves in such dire straits. Once they knew I cared, they calmed down and talked with me about painful traumas in their lives. All three of us ended up crying together. It is called humanity. I am a retired woman who lives in government housing. Not how I planned on spending my golden years, after working so hard for 48 years, but I am so thankful I was able to get this senior apartment where I can afford the rent. Rents in NYC are staggering. I am blessed. I know this. I attend as many OSI seminars as I can. Each time I meet someone profound and grow. As I have mentioned many times, Tivadar Soros is my hero. As long as I am able I will continue to reach out to someone who is hurting. If all I can give is a kind, encouraging word, then I will. Those men and women who rec. OSI grants to work and live all over the world are so fortunate. I never had this luck. I just did it on my own. You don't have to go to Bosnia, Syria or Nigeria to save lives and offer hope. You can do it in Washington Heights, NYC on the steps of an apt. bldg. to two men who have given up hope of changing their lives. I feel it was fate that brought me to that encounter last week. Thank you OSI.

human rights means that every person have rights to live liberty without threats and no body interfere to his live and all human are equal

Human Rights is an issue of global concern. While nations struggle within over power and financial concerns, people of the world seek a better environment. Governmental controls do not provide safety or happiness for all people, and liberty is pretty much forgotten. We certainly need an organization like Open Society.

All countries in the World need to protect human rights for a good future!

The only sustaining loyalty is to the truth--Peter Senge

Lets have more voices added to Human Rights issues. The few voices are being swallowed up by the ravenous vipers of state agents who are creatively working out ways to suppress the human, sane and heavenly born voices that are still talking about Human Rights. Thanks to Open Society Foundation

I understand that high profile people bring viewers, but at least one voice of someone below age 35 would have been nice. Looks like the average age there is 67, at least. That's not the future. And not the way you spur debate among those who inevitably will lead this world tomorrow.

What is Human Rights when Democracy which are to be by the people and for the people are no more for the people but for Politicians and their families, when laws are now interpreted on individualism basic and when the rights of the masses are no more the concern of National Governments. Hum..... Human Rights???

Human Rights is an issue of global concern. While nations struggle within over power and financial concerns, people of the world seek a better environment. Governmental controls do not provide safety or happiness for all people, and liberty is pretty much forgotten. We certainly need an organization like Open Society.

Quite a few rights can be taken away from people before they notice and get upset enough to protest. The realisation that human rights are guaranteed through public space, public policies and public provisions only comes to enough people after much erosion of these guarantors. Professor Saskia Sassen mentioned her 'hobby' of tracking the loss of rights by people (in the West, I think) at the recent European Citizens' Summit in Brussels. Let's have that list and build an awareness raising programme! If we cared about 'small' rights losses, might we be better equipped to prevent the big onslaughts on human rights?

Human Rights defender have lots of challenges facing them, ranging from violence to intimidation and exclusion. I am from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, A Professor of Developmental Counselling Psychology. Funding is needed for training, education and Counselling.

I have formed Human Rights Watch on Child Abuse in my state. I will be very glad to join the OSIWA Network on Human Rights. I need such support for I work with children, Youths and Women and a lot of Rights violations are going on in various communities and so we need such support to be able to provide evidence- based data on different types of violations observed.

Rights whatever it may mean has no value to a poor and marginalized person. A person deprived of one's ability to have the next meal is desperate and powerless to observe later on claims for his/her rights and only lives on the mercy of the haves. Those with immense power militarily and financially. This world is ruled by tyrants and monsters who have sang the song of human rights protection on the one hand and oppressed the powerless on the other. The would-be promoters are looking for minerals, petroleum, suitable land for their businesses and are read to kill and destroy any thing which opposes their interests. The superpowers with the mandate to monitor UN resolutions are also looking for their trade interests. Who then will promote the fundamental human rights?

According to me the human right is basic for human life. Where the the life is not respected the justice must be imposed. It is not human to put mother with a baby under six months in the prison. This happens in the dem. republic of Congo in Kisangani prison this year wher the sanitary conditions are dredifull. Now the baby is sick. You people must do your job monitorizing the human right every where. In the dem. rep. of this corrupted and deshuman justice system has to be obliged to be restructured toward the respect and the protection of the humanbeing's life.

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