Ultimate Guide To Ethical Humanitarianism

Did you know you can harm people when trying to help them? Here’s a guide on how to be an ethical humanitarians without being destructive to communities.

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Human rights are essential to the full development of individuals and communities.

Human Rights Activism FAQ

What Are Human Rights?

Human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace. 

What are the principles of human rights?

  • Human rights belong to all people
  • Human rights cannot be taken away
  • Human rights should be respected without prejudice

Where Do Human Rights Come From?

Modern human rights can be traced to centuries of struggling to end slavery, genocide, discrimination, and government oppression.

However World War II made it clear that previous efforts to protect individual rights from government violations were not enough.

After WWII, the United Nations (UN) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) were formed.

The UDHR was the first international document that spelled out the “basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy.” The declaration was ratified without opposition by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

What Are MY Human Rights?

These are the human rights that are outlined in the International Bill of Rights:

  • The right to equality and freedom from discrimination
  • The right to life, liberty, and personal security
  • Freedom from torture and degrading treatment
  • The right to equality before the law
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right to privacy
  • Freedom of belief and religion
  • Freedom of opinion
  • Right of peaceful assembly and association
  • The right to participate in government
  • The right to social security
  • The right to work
  • The right to an adequate standard of living
  • The right to education
  • The right to health
  • The right to food and housing

Find the full details of your human rights by downloading a copy of the UDHR.

Who Has Human Rights?

Every single person! It’s that simple.

Every person is entitled to human rights simply because they are human beings.

Human rights are guaranteed to everyone without distinction of any kind including race, sexuality, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

Human rights are essential to the full development of individuals and communities.

Many people view human rights as a set of moral principles that apply to everyone. Human rights are also part of international law, contained in treaties and declarations that spell out specific rights that countries are required to uphold.

Countries often incorporate human rights in their own national, state, and local laws.

Human rights are also part of international law, contained in treaties and declarations that spell out specific rights that countries are required to uphold.

Why are Human Rights Important?

Human rights are the minimum standards necessary for people to live with dignity.

Human rights let people:

  • have the freedom to choose how they live, how they express themselves, and what kind of government they want to support, among many other things
  • satisfy their basic needs, such as food, housing, and education, so they can take full advantage of all opportunities
  • be insured with life, liberty, equality, and security, human rights protect people against abuse by those who are more powerful

According to the United Nations, human rights:

Ensure that a human being will be able to fully develop and use human qualities such as intelligence, talent, and conscience and satisfy his or her spiritual and others.

United Nations

10 Steps To Become A Human Rights Advocate

Human rights is a big, touchy subject because it can easily be considered to be “too political”. That is why it’s careful not to rush in without due diligence.

I’ve written up this detailed step-by-step blueprint on how to get started as a human rights advocate.

Step 1 – Choose a human rights issue.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are the biggest problems you are observing in your community or that you hear about in the news?
  2. Is there a particular issue you feel passionate about?
  3. What is most important to you?

Write out a definition of exactly what you want to address.

Deal with just one problem at a time and stay focused.

Step 2 – Identify the related human rights.     

Learn about which human rights are connected to your cause of importance.

You can do that by downloading a copy of the UDHR and choosing the human rights most relevant to your cause of importance.

Step 3 – Research the Issue.

Get informed! This can be the fun (and infuriating) part.

Here are some tips on how you can research the issue:

  • Read newspapers, magazines,and reports that discuss the problem
  • Call or write letters to organizations and officials asking for information
  • Collect statistics (through online archives, libraries, etc.)
  • Survey your community (only if appropriate)
  • Learn what your government is doing to address the issue
  • Find out what your state or national laws say
  • Find out who is already taking action on the issue (people you know, organizations, etc.)

Step 4 – Brainstorm ideas and actions that you can take. 

Try to understand the root causes behind the problem. This is important because it’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of judging the symptoms of a problem without looking at the real illness.

How do you brainstorm ideas? Get my free 5-step roadmap. It has worksheets that walk you through brainstorming and prioritizing ideas that would help to address those root causes and choose one or two actions that seem the most possible and likely to make the biggest difference. Consider the 8 methods of human rights advocacy.

Make sure you are NOT judging the symptoms of a problem without looking at the real illness.

Step 5 – Organize.

Working alone can be productive and easy in some cases, but not in all cases. In fact, it is often easier to work with other people to achieve your goals.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Build a coalition or network of support
  • Find other organizations and individuals who are concerned about the problem and agree with your approach
  • Try to get support from as many different sectors as possible – teachers, officials, students, businesses, community groups

The more people on your team, the more power you will have to make a difference.

Mass impact leads to the big changes.

Step 6 – Identify your opposition. 

You have to know what you’re up against. It’s the smart and safe thing to do if you want to make progress with your cause

  • Find out who the people and organizations are that oppose your solution. They might not be “bad guys” but instead people with different opinions
  • Consider meeting with your opponents; you might be able to work out a compromise

It is important to try to understand each other’s point of view. Always be polite and respectful of other opinions.

Step 7 – Make an action plan. 

Make an action plan below. Get my free 5-step roadmap. It has worksheets that walk you through brainstorming and prioritizing ideas into an organized plan.

The basics of making an action plan are to make a list of all the steps you need to take to implement your chosen action. Ask yourself:

  • Who will do them?
  • When and where will these actions happen?
  • What is the desired result?
  • Will you need to raise money to fund your idea?

If possible, practice the action before you carry out your plan.

Step 8 – Advertise.

Let as many people as possible know about the problem you are trying to solve and your proposed solution. Here are some PR tips:

  • Newspapers, radio, and television are usually interested in stories of action
  • Some TV and radio stations offer free air time for worthy projects
  • Write a letter to the editor

The more people who know about what you are doing, the more who may want to support you.

Step 9 – Take Action. 

Carry out your plan and do not give up if things do not work out exactly as planned.

Expect the unexpectrd. Expect backlash. Expect misunderstandings.

And keep moving forward with more action.

Making change happen takes time. Problem solving means eliminating all the things that do not work until you find something that does. 🙂

Step 10 – Evaluate and follow-up. 

After you executed your action plan, think and talk about what happened…

  • Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve?
  • How do you know?
  • What could you have done better?
  • Are some efforts effective and others not?
  • Have you tried everything?

Keep thinking creatively about how to solve the problem and decide on what to do next.

Remember: It’s okay to take breaks! Burnout is real and harmful to your health and to your cause.

Easy Ways To Take Action For Human Rights In 10 Minutes!

We made a huge list of 150+ Ways To Take Action For Human Rights. It’s split into tasks that you can do in 10 minutes, a few hours, a month, or even in a year!

You can also check out these 141 Trustworthy Human Rights Organizations to explore actions you can take for even more specific initiatives.

Both of the above resources have sections that cover:

  • General human rights
  • Minority rights
  • Children’s rights
  • Education rights
  • Food access rights
  • Healthcare rights

We hope you find something useful in those two resources so that you can grow into an amazing human of impact!

PIN IT: Save for later!

If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Human Rights board OR Activism Tips board on Pinterest.

Did you know you can harm people when trying to help them? Here’s a guide on how to be an ethical humanitarians without being destructive to communities.

SOURCES: FIC at the National Health Institute, Borgen Project, The Advocates For Human Rights, AMSA

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