MacArthur Foundation has announced a new Human Rights & International Justice grantmaking strategy that will focus on defending freedom of expression and enhancing criminal justice globally, with a special focus on Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia.
In 2010, the Foundation assessed its human rights grantmaking and began the process of shifting the program’s priorities to align with the four emerging trends in human rights and international justice namely, growing threats to freedom of speech and association; new demands for accountable governance; new attention to national and local justice opportunities; and rapid advancement in communications technology.
The evolution of its human rights and international justice grantmaking takes account of the trends described above while maintaining the core objectives of strengthening rights protections, advancing accountability, and improving the reach and quality of justice. The Foundation plans to partner with people and organizations on the ground, buttressed by international organizations and institutions, to help advance the development of domestic accountability, and, thereby, improve human rights protections.
Grantmaking under the Foundation’s new strategy will be captured under two thematic pillars that concern two fundamental substantive aspects of human rights: defending freedom of expression and enhancing criminal justice. Its approach in each pillar emphasizes accountability – both political and judicial – to provide mechanisms for achieving progress in these essential areas of human rights. Underpinning both pillars will be a focus on leveraging technology and innovation to advance the Foundation’s work.
The Foundation, building on its 30-year history in the field, says it will place special emphasis on assessing progress in its areas of investment, both in terms of individual grants and more broadly on the extent to which its strategic approach is contributing to systemic change.
MacArthur Foundation seeks to strengthen human rights protections, advance government accountability, and improve the reach and quality of justice.
It has invested in advancing human rights since its first grants in 1978. Beginning in the 1990s, in the wake of mass atrocities in places such as Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and East Timor, its grantmaking focused on building an international institution, the International Criminal Court, to prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The Foundation also emphasized the use of regional institutions like the European Court of Human Rights that offers redress to victims of abuses by the State where domestic systems are weak or corrupt. In addition, early grants supported select international human rights groups, based primarily in the north, that were setting standards for documenting and reporting human rights violations, conducting forensic investigations, litigating cases of abuse, and bringing advanced communications technology into the fold of rights advocacy.
Programmes to strengthen human rights infrastructure at the local level were established in Russia, Nigeria, and Mexico, where the Foundation maintains offices. Finally, there was a focus on new thinking about the obligations of the international community in the face of mass atrocities and threats to civilians in conflict situations.
In 2010, the Foundation assessed its human rights grantmaking and began the process of shifting the program’s priorities to align with emerging trends in human rights and international justice.
Full details of MacArthur Foundation’s new grantmaking strategy is available here.