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Newsroom Press release

Open Society Foundations Announce New Support for Human Rights in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO—The Open Society Foundations and Brazilian philanthropists will provide support to Conectas Direitos Humanos, a São Paulo-based organization with an 18-year history of defending and promoting human rights in Brazil and globally. These investments from domestic and international funders will strengthen Conectas’ capacity to lead and monitor legal cases in defense of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 

Brazil has become a new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations, including Black communities and indigenous peoples. These challenges have been compounded by hostility toward human rights from the country’s current political leadership.

In this context, Conectas will increase its capacity to use strategic litigation as a tool to promote and protect fundamental rights. The Open Society Foundations will provide $1 million per year for the next five years, and commit to implementing a strategy to raise funds from domestic and international philanthropies at a one-to-one ratio.

“A strong and vibrant civil society is essential for democracy. The profound attacks on democracy and freedom that we are experiencing should be a call to action for Brazilians to consciously support organizations that defend the rule of law,” Juana Kweitel, executive director of Conectas, said. “We are excited to see Brazilian philanthropy coming together to strengthen the culture of giving and diversify funding sources for civil society in the country.”

“We are seeing rights violations taking place at an alarming rate. It is therefore imperative that we all take steps to challenge these setbacks in order to protect our democracy,” said Beatriz Bracher, executive director of the Instituto Galo da Manhã. 

“At a time when fundamental rights are being threatened on a daily basis, it has never been more important to commit to defending the rule of law,” added Neca Setubal, president of Fundação Tide Setubal.

Litigation is a vital tool for promoting change and preventing setbacks in human rights. This strategy can be used in the country’s highest courts as well as in defense of individuals or groups in cases in lower courts, making a positive impact on society as a whole. 

In addition to litigation, Conectas uses other strategies to bring about change, including advocacy with international bodies like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, campaigns aimed at mobilizing the public, and trainings for activists.

“With a global reach, Conectas is one of the leading human rights organizations in Brazil, and has a long record of effectively combining communications work and policy advocacy with legal action, a combination badly needed in times of rising authoritarianism and increasing setbacks for human rights,” said Pedro Abramovay, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at Open Society.

Conectas’ leadership defines the organization’s goals and activities, with the approval of the board of trustees, which is comprised of well-known Brazilian academics and professionals dedicated to the defense of human rights. Their work is supported by private domestic and international foundations, in addition to bilateral and multilateral donors that share their values and vision. Conectas does not accept funds from the Brazilian government, partisan organizations, or political parties. Independent audits are available on its website.

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