The Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) has pioneered a unique model of human rights capacity building linked to higher education, consisting of a combination of training in practical skills, deepening academic knowledge and developing international networks of contacts. The program is designed for proven human rights defenders from the Global South and marginalised communities in the United States. Originally begun in 1989 by the Center for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR), HRAP has grown from a basic training program for workers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) into a sophisticated and tailored programme designed to build the skills of experienced leaders grappling with complex rights issues. The focus is both on strengthening the skills of individual human rights defenders and providing the tools to build sustainable organisations with the resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.
Over the last 17 years, HRAP has trained 199 advocates from 72 countries. At the individual level, anecdotal information on the accomplishments of HRAP alumni are multiple and impressive. HRAP alumni report that the program has directly contributed to their individual development, and enabled their organisations to become more effective.
Praxis Note 30 - Building the Capacity of Human Rights Leaders - Margaret Ladner, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University