Addressing the failure of meaningful human rights communications

We've failed to convince the general public that human rights are important. These were the opening sentiments of the Agency’s Director to an expert meeting on communicating human rights.

This failure to communicate human rights messages in a way that makes people listen and that changes lives is why the Agency brought together diverse experts from around the world to share experiences on how to better communicate fundamental rights and freedoms in a world that is growing increasingly intolerant.

Many spoke of the need to reach out to general public while recognising that not one size fits all given the tremendous diversity that is out there. It is therefore important when communicating to appreciate and understand that diversity to craft appropriate messages. Often this means getting back to basics of good communications, making it understandable and relevant to everyday people. This includes giving stories a human face rather than simply facts and figures. The need to build constituencies of support, empower people and influence change leaders was also recognised.

The range of expertise at the meeting from 31 May to 1 June spanned many different fields. It included journalists, satirists, human rights educators, NGO communications experts, marketeers, neuroscientists, as well as experts in political communication, intercultural education, data analysis and infographics.

The meeting will feed into a public report that aims to inform and guide the communications work of human rights practitioners and policy makers at every level and across a broad range of issues. It will also link into the development of the Fundamental Rights Forum that will take place in September 2018.


How to better communicate common values, fundamental rights and freedoms - Report of high level expert meeting, Vienna 31 May - 1 June 2017

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