“Solidarity and cooperation are at the core of the network. The fund embodies these values, supporting locally initiated joint projects that strengthen the capability of Houses and members to face common challenges and meet the human rights needs in their countries. Two years since HRHF launched the fund, the expectations for a more active, closer network have become a reality.”
Daiva Petkeviciute, Head of House Development and Support at HRHF.
At the beginning of 2017, Human Rights House Foundation launched a small grants House-to-House (H2H) fund that aims at supporting collaboration among Human Rights Houses.
Two years later, HRHF is releasing the 2019 call for applications with the same enthusiasm and excitement, to bring Houses together and strengthen the network of Human Rights Houses through joint initiatives and projects.
The first H2H project was successfully carried out in March 2017, with experts from four Houses meeting at Human Rights House Yerevan. They trained Armenian human rights defenders in how to document and report on violations of the right to assembly – answering to the challenge of large-scale protests and mass arrests in the country.
“It is difficult to solve serious problems in human rights without solidarity and support from partners. We open the doors to each other, because we are stronger together. Human rights have no borders.”
Serhiy Burov, Director of Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv.
Since the first project, the H2H project fund has grown steadily not only in size but also in terms of public outreach and impact. In November 2018, the fund saw its most significant project to date.
Representatives from three Human Rights Houses brought their experience and perspectives to carry out a rare human rights mission to Crimea, aimed at breaking the wall of silence and documenting first-hand the human rights situation on the peninsula. Representatives of the three Human Rights Houses continue to promote and build on its findings, and other Houses have joined to promote the report in their own countries. This Mission has been invaluable in shedding light on the human rights situation in Crimea since its annexation by the Russian Federation.
For 2019, HRHF has added public outreach as a priority criterion for the projects, in line with recommendations from an external evaluation of the Human Rights House concept, commissioned by HRHF to inform its strategy for 2019-23. Specifically, the evaluation finds that “the Houses and their member NGOs need to address the challenge of availability to citizens… and should take more active steps to communicate with external stakeholders and the public.” HRHF aims to use the H2H fund to help answer to this recommendation.
Deadline for applications in 2019: 4 March | 22 April | 27 May | 19 August
The projects must contribute to one or more of HRHF’s strategic objectives:
- Enhance institutional capacity and sustainability of Houses
- Strengthen capacity of Houses, member NGOs and human rights defenders to address the human rights needs of their communities through collaborative efforts
- Broaden public outreach of the Houses nationally
- Improve the protection of human rights defenders
- Increase the use of national and international human rights mechanisms
- Strengthen international human rights standards
- Advance rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and the right to be a human rights defender
Houses or member organisations may only be a main applicant in two projects during 2019.
HRHF upholds the principles of sustainability, flexibility, coordination, and independence in its approach as a donor. For the H2H fund, this translates into ensuring the projects work towards longer-term impact, are adapted to and meet local needs, promote collaboration instead of competition, and prioritise the independence and security of organisations applying to the fund. These principles are outlined further in HRHF’s report Funding Civil Society.
The projects supported by the fund have covered a wide range of themes, from the right to a fair trial to the right to be a human rights defender, and the projects have welcomed a diverse group of human rights defenders, including journalists and lawyers.
Connecting Human Rights Houses together in an international network, HRHF strengthens Human Rights Houses and their member organisations by encouraging knowledge and competency sharing, increasing capabilities, and creating and implementing joint projects and strategies. The H2H project fund has contributed significantly to cultivating solidarity and building a strong, vibrant, and living network.
HRHF offers its sincere thanks to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its generous contributions that ensure we are able to support the vital work of Human Rights Houses and their members, and further efforts to protect empower and support human rights defenders and independent civil society.