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Human Rights Movements and Institutions

The Open Society Foundations fund human rights groups around the world, from global advocacy organizations to smaller national and local groups, that stand up for the rights of all.

$79.9M 2019 budget for Human Rights Movements and Institutions 
7.4% Percentage of global budget
5.6% Average annual change in budget since 2016

2019 Human Rights Movements and Institutions Budget by Region


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      Explore our full budget by theme and region

      Our Work

      We are committed to upholding the rights described by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—from civil and political rights, such as the right to free assembly and freedom of speech, to economic and social rights, such as the right to education, food, and housing.

      Concern for human rights informs all our work. Our Human Rights Initiative focuses in particular on challenging impunity and ensuring accountability, tackling discrimination and abusive practices in law enforcement and criminal justice, and defending freedoms of expression, assembly and association.

      Our in-house legal arm, the Open Society Justice Initiative, also seeks to expand and protect human rights through strategic litigation before both regional tribunals and the human rights committees of the United Nations. 

      People in purple shirts at a protest in support of reproductive rights.
      A march in support of reproductive rights in Dublin, Ireland. © Deirdre Brennan/Redux

      Supporting Human Rights Movements

      A man stands outside, in front of an assembly of used weaponry.
      A Human Rights Watch senior military analyst inspects what remains of Israeli weaponry after a conflict in Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories, on January 28, 2009. © Wissam Nassar/eyevine/Redux

      In 2010, the Open Society Foundations gave a challenge grant of $100 million over 10 years to Human Rights Watch to support global expansion—the largest single donation commitment Human Rights Watch had ever received.

      Challenging Authoritarian Regimes

      A crowd of young people stand outside in the cold while raising signs featuring an illustrated cartoon face that is supposed to represent anger.
      Students in Budapest, Hungary, hold up signs showing an angry emoticon during protests against the government's education policy on January 19, 2018. © Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty

      Many of the human rights groups we and others support around the world have come under attack from increasingly authoritarian governments. From Hungary to Egypt and elsewhere, their courage and commitment inspires our efforts. 

      Accountability for Human Rights Abuses

      Two men in military garb stand at the end of a long, dark hallway.
      Military staff at an airbase near the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, on November 9, 2005. © Vadim Ghirda/AP/Shutterstock

      We support efforts throughout the world to end human rights abuses linked to government counter-terrorism efforts. This support has included seeking to strengthen overview and accountability for the use of armed drones by the United States and its allies, and challenging the program of illegal rendition and torture of suspects launched by the CIA after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

      Economic Justice

      Our work on economic and social rights has included using European rights law to challenge mortgage-related home repossessions in Ireland, and using rights arguments to challenge corruption in Sierra Leone. 

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