15 tactics for making change

Picture: Indigenous woman at a festival in Mexico.Picture: Indigenous woman at a festival in Mexico.

Which tactics are most relevant for you and your organisation or community to use to promote freedom of religion or belief?

There are many ways to promote human rights. Broadly speaking these can be grouped into 4 types of tactics: Emergency tactics, Change tactics, Building tactics and Healing tactics. Scroll down to discover the tactics and get inspired by the stories of people using them to promote FORB!

Emergency tactics

We use emergency tactics to tackle human rights abuses that are about to happen or are happening now to particular people, in particular places. Emergency tactics are used to prevent imminent abuses, to stop abuses that are in progress and save those affected, and to call for help or warn people of danger.

Emergencies are not always large scale – being subject to hate speech on the bus to work is an emergency for the person affected.

Harassment, hate speech and hate crimes – for example online or face to face verbal attacks, incitement to violence, assaults, vandalism of property, attacks on places of worship, communal violence and arbitrary arrests.

Changemaker stories: Emergency tactics in practice

Witnesses at military checkpoints, Israel

Talking over the wall, Northern Ireland

Protecting interfaith couples, India

Calling for help to avoid a riot, India

Solidarity leads authorities to act, Myanmar

Change tactics

We use change tactics to influence decision-makers. A decision-maker is a person who has the power to change rules, policies, and ways of working. Decision-makers can be found in government (including traditional leaders), in public institutions like schools, hospitals or the justice system and in faith communities and businesses.

Change tactics put pressure on decision-makers to solve human rights problems that they have influence over. These tactics highlight the strength of public concern about problems and propose solutions. They are often used to tackle long-term human rights violations that are built into the way society works, for example by changing laws, policies and ways of working.

There are four types of change tactics: campaigning, advocacy, incentives and defiance.

Changemaker stories: Change tactics in practice

Artists protest citizenship laws, India

Religious leaders join together to influence Parliament, Kyrgyzstan

International advocacy for local communities, Vietnam

Campaign for the right to burial, Sri Lanka

Incentives to end FGM, Sierra Leone

Safe spaces for transgender women, Pakistan

Building tactics

Building tactics are about long-term work to build a ‘culture’ of human rights. That means working towards a society in which everyone:

  • knows what human rights we all have
  • sees respect for human rights as normal and right
  • understands their role in respecting and protecting human rights – for example as a teacher, police officer, legislator, businessperson or faith leader
  • knows HOW to stand up for their own and other people’srights and what to do if rights are violated.

Creating this kind of ‘culture’ is a long-term process that involves building awareness, engagement, skills and networks, both among the general public and within all the public and private institutions of society. Building tactics create pre-conditions for change in the form of aware, engaged, empowered citizens and institutions.

Changemaker stories: Building tactics in practice

Awareness for peacebuilding, Tanzania

Praying together, Lebanon

Activating people to show solidarity, Canada

Learning skills to defend rights, Mexico

Networking for womens rights, Iraq

Defending rights in Chhattisgarh, India

Healing tactics

The impact of human rights abuse lasts far longer than the immediate suffering caused by the abuse itself. Lives and communities can be shattered by trauma, by economic hardships resulting from violations, and by a collapse of trust. Healing tactics are about what we do to help individuals and communities find healing, justice and reconciliation after violations have happened.

These tactics involve providing practical support, such as safe accommodation or counselling; documenting violations to ensure they can’t be covered up and to secure evidence for legal processes; efforts to help victims get justice and compensation; and the commemoration of abuses.

Although these tactics focus on things that have happened in the past, they play an important role in preventing abuses in the future. They strengthen damaged communities, help bring an end to the impunity that allows abusers to go unpunished, and create a space for the pain of victims and their families to be acknowledged and commemorated.

Changemaker stories: Healing tactics in practice

Yoga and friendship for survivors of ISIL, Iraq

Documenting hate crimes, Bosnia Herzegovina

Documenting violations, Myanmar

Legal aid for a victim of assault, Vietnam

Legal challenge to fines for worship, Russia

Commemorating the holocaust, Ukraine

Find lots of resources to help you present tactics – Workshop plans, exercises, posters, powerpoints and ready made presentation scripts.

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