IHRFG recently held a Learning Visit in Rio de Janeiro exploring the changing dynamics of human rights and global philanthropy in emerging economies. Over the coming weeks, we will share reflections from participants.Click here to read more lessons and join the conversation!
Contributed by Greg Miller, Donor Advised Fund Manager, Global Greengrants Fund –
Of the many thoughts I took away from the IHRFG learning visit in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest lesson that I will bring to my grantmaking will be the need for continued efforts in protecting the rights that our movements have earned. While discussing the three democratic emerging powers (Brazil, South Africa, and India), we see that funding for human rights decreases as rights are written into laws and constitutions. Resources are diverted to other areas of the world where such legal protections are yet to be codified. However, a repeated theme throughout our discussions showed the need to continue efforts to ensure that laws are respected by the courts, the police, the government, and by all organizations and entities that might infringe upon these.
The favela of Providencia Hill in the heart of Rio de Janeiro served as an example of the government not meeting the spirit of its own rules. The social housing program in Brazil is designed to fairly compensate residents where they are forced to move their home to make way for a development project. When the mayor came to the favela in 2010 with a project to build a cable car to the top of the hill, many faced such an eviction. However, many were only given the option to move to distant outskirts of the city. Away from their friends, their family, and their jobs, this option required a new way of life. This fight for land rights continues on with new projects and new designs for the community. Despite progressive laws designed for the protection land rights, the people of Providencia continue to fight for this basic human right. Though the fight may change when rights are won on paper, this was just one example of the need to continue efforts to ensure the just application of laws in order to preserve what gains we earn.