Rights Action is a tax-deductible, non-profit organization incorporated in the U.S. and Canada. Founded in the U.S. in 1995, Rights Action grew out of Guatemala Partners that, itself, was created from the merger of PEACE for Guatemala and Guatemala Health Rights Support Project, both founded in 1983. In Canada, Rights Action was incorporated in 1999.
Policies and actions of the U.S. and Canadian governments, of the U.S. military, of North American companies and investors, and of the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc., oftentimes cause and benefit from repression and human rights violations, violent evictions and environmental harms, impunity and corruption in Honduras and Guatemala.
Rights Action directly funds and supports Honduran and Guatemalan community human rights, territory and environmental defense committees; and, Rights Action educates about and works to hold accountable our governments, inter-governmental institutions, companies and investors for helping cause and benefit from repression and violations, evictions and harms, impunity and corruption.
Why “Rights Action”
Years ago, we changed our name to Rights Action to highlight the relationship of ‘rights’ and ‘action’. We fund and support people and communities working and struggling in defense of their individual and collective rights, of their lands and territories, and of their waters, forests and livelihoods, and for truth and justice.
What we do – Rights Action’s work
- We fund community organizations carrying out their own development, environmental defense, human rights, justice and emergency relief projects in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as El Salvador, Chiapas (Mexico);
- We build north-south relationships and support education, legal work and activism to hold accountable the U.S. and Canadian governments, our companies and investors that oftentimes cause and profit from exploitation and poverty, environmental destruction, repression and violence, corruption and impunity in Honduras and Guatemala.
Why? – Understanding and addressing underlying causes
- A proper understanding of poverty and exploitation, racism and repression, environmental destruction, corruption and impunity includes local-to-global and historical perspectives;
- Community organizations are at the forefront of efforts to construct communities, societies and a global community based on equality, human rights and justice, and respect for the environment. It is imperative to fund and empower community carrying out work and struggles of their own design;
- All rights (individual and collective) must be promoted, protected and enforced;
- All actors (governmental, inter-governmental and private) must be held accountable for policies, actions and omissions that cause or contribute to repression, human rights violations and environmental destruction, corruption and impunity.
From 1995-2014, Rights Action was run by Grahame Russell and Annie Bird, who departed in 2014; Grahame continues as director. Many great folks have worked with Rights Action over the past 24 years: Kate Robinson, Maguerite Pigeon, Jessica Pupovac, Tono Catalan, Jane Pelly, Sandra Cuffe, Ruben Dominguez, Dan Fireside, Martha Garcia, Sue Kuyper, Paul Magno, Rosario Martinez, Eva Morales, Freddie Schrider, Karen Spring, Calixto Torres. (With apologies, let me know if I have left anyone out. Grahame)
Grahame is a non-practicing Canadian lawyer, author, Adjunct Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia.
- S.: Jim Schrider, Freddie Schrider, Paul Magno, Grahame Russell
- Canada: Merran Smith, Wayne Rosen, James MacDonald, Grahame Russell
Rights Action’s work has grown considerably since 1995, financially and geographically. Even as we maintain a one fulltime person staff, and virtually no over-head costs, we have in place professional and institutional processes so that our partner organizations receive consistent funding and support for their work, so that we strengthen alliance-building work at national, regional and global levels, and so that our funders – individual and foundations – know how their money is being spent.
We can – on request – provide more background information on the history of Rights Action’s work, on the issues our partner groups are resisting and working to change, and on our partner groups themselves.
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