Understanding, then responding

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Even as democratic backsliding continues apace in all sorts of places – not just newer or seemingly more fragile democracies – and there is no end in sight for the problems, dramas, and crises, that are associated with such developments, there is a ray of practical hope.

Against what could be a very bleak backdrop, César Rodríguez-Garavito and Krizna Gomez have edited a very thoughtful volume entitled Rising to the Populist Challenge: A New Playbook for Human Rights Activists.

With cases set in Hungary, Venezuela, Turkey, India, South Africa, and Egypt, plus cross-cutting analysis on new approaches and contesting the spaces that some would seek to close off, there is something to inform a variety of practitioners in the field as well as scholars seeking a perspective from the field.

Among many level-headed insights, the editors point out that:

It is too early to tell whether the copycat actions by populist governments against human rights NGOs amount to a global trend of closing civil society spaces [but] human rights actors are responding to the populist challenge by developing new tactics and updating old ones [creating reinvigoration that] addresses the weaknesses and blind spots of the current human rights architecture that populist governments exploit as they seek to undermine rights and freedoms in the name of democracy, and ultimately, democracy itself.

César Rodríguez-Garavito and Krizna Gomez

An accessible read for any who would wish to be part of the response, the full volume is available online from Dejusticia.