The Cambodian Human Rights Network Project is a new approach
to promoting human rights from the grassroots up in Cambodia. The Project will
establish a Network of communities which – unlike existing Networks which have
tended to focus on the goal of speaking with one voice to the point of taking
on the identity of distinct organizations – will not be strongly branded, speak
on behalf of its participants nor enforce unnatural joint advocacy. The
main premise on which the Network is based is that civic-driven change is best
brought about by communities.
The primary objective of the Project is to achieve the
decentralization of human rights activism, establishing communities as the
primary drivers of change in Cambodia. To this end, Network Participants will
receive capacity building training on human rights, monitoring and
documentation, advocacy and organizational development. Through the Network
infrastructure, community based organizations (CBOs) will be connected and will
be encouraged to collaborate in the furtherance of shared objectives. Through
the Project’s small grants scheme, Network Participants can seek funding for
activities in the furtherance of their objectives. Network Participants will
receive guidance and support from CCHR and other partner NGOs in undertaking
activities and in addressing any issues or problems that confront their
communities or their members. Activities undertaken by Network Participants
will receive coverage on CCHR’s radio airtime, information will also be
disseminated about individual Network Participants and the activities they
undertake to promote and protect human rights and the interests of their
communities. It is expected that the use of the radio to share information
about community driven activities, will act to spur on other communities to
work together to create change.
Cambodia suffers from widespread violations of human rights. Large and established NGOs have had only limited success in addressing these violations and in encouraging greater respect for human rights. This lack of success is partly due to the flawed and outdated manner in which some NGOs work. There is limited
collaboration, extensive duplication, and a distinct lack of specialization.
Further the human rights field is marked by established NGOs’ top down approach
and apparent desire for control, meaning that communities and smaller
organizations are often told what to do rather asked – they are led rather than
empowered. Many NGOs claim to speak on behalf of ‘civil society’ and yet rarely
listen to what communities are saying.
The Project seeks to decentralize human rights activism in Cambodia by
empowering CBOs to drive the change they see as necessary in their communities.
Empowered CBOs will be able to utilize their local knowledge in their advocacy
and will be able to achieve resolutions distinct from the generic centrally
formulated approaches offered by national NGOs. To this end, CBOs will receive
training on human rights, monitoring and documentation, and advocacy, they will
be linked to each other and encouraged to engage in joint advocacy and they
will receive support and advice from CCHR, support will include use of our air
time and access to the Project small grants fund.
Through the Project, CCHR seeks to empower CBOs which we
consider have the greatest capacity to affect change on issues of particular
concern. Throughout the Pilot period, CCHR will work predominantly with CBOs
that work in relation to the issues of land, labour and fisheries. During the
Pilot period, development CBOs will not be invited to participate in the
Network. The reason for this being that development CBOs are generally better
funded and supported by larger organizations than CBOs that work on issues of
land, labour and fisheries. In order to identify potential Network
Participants, CCHR uses our extensive network of grassroots contacts and
travels to Target Areas to meet with CBOs and to discuss the benefits of
participation in the Network. In order to identify which groups have the
greatest capacity to affect change within their communities, CCHR conducts a
needs assessment of individual CBOs. The needs assessment considers the number
of members, the extent of their ongoing and planned activities, their ambitions
and their ability to organize in the furtherance of their objectives.
Once selected, CBOs become Network Participants. Information about each CBO is
included in the Network Directory, which is available online and in hard copy.
Network Participants are encouraged to contact CCHR through the Network hotline
to receive guidance on issues that arise and are referred to other NGOs with
relevant expertise when CCHR does not have the necessary expertise on a given
issue. Network Participants receive capacity building training in the areas of
human rights, monitoring and documentation, and advocacy. Once training is
complete, Network Participants are encouraged to apply for funding to support
activities through the Project small grants scheme, and are also encouraged to
seek guidance from CCHR and other NGOs on the steps to be taken in conducting
activities. Individual and joint activities undertaken by Network Participants
will be broadcast on radio using CCHR’s airtime.
The Project was launched in June 2010 and significant
progress has been made in establishing the Network and identifying potential
Network Participants. The Network will be fully established and Network
Participants empowered, through the following activities:
- Creation - Development and maintenance of the
Network infrastructure and resources
- Identification - CCHR identifies Target
Beneficiaries and outlines the benefits of participation in the Network
- Empowerment - Target Beneficiaries are profiled and
included in the Network Directory and receive capacity building training on human rights,
documentation and monitoring, and advocacy
- Participation - Target Beneficiaries participate in
The Project seeks to decentralize human rights activism in
Cambodia. To this end, the Project will target CBOs working to promote respect
for human rights at a grassroots community level. By the conclusion of the
Pilot Project period in May 2012, 30 CBOs will have joined the Network,
becoming Network Participants.
In 2011, CCHR will target CBOs working in Battambang and Siem Reap Provinces.
Over the course of the year, ten Network Participants from Battambang and Siem
Reap Provinces will join the Network, becoming Network Participants. In the
first half of 2012, the Network will be extended to an additional two
Provinces. This will be repeated every six months until the Network covers the
entire geographical area of Cambodia.