Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Human Rights Resources

This will be mostly a page of links to human rights organizations.  However, as I find time and links, I will also include good materials on what human rights are, why they should be protected, etc., especially Christian theological defenses of universal human rights.  But I’ll start with links to human rights organizations.  I may also link to different human rights awards, presented by a variety of groups around the world.

Abolish: The American Anti-Slavery Group  Works to abolish modern-day slavery, provide support and empowerment to slavery survivors, raise awareness, give direct aid, and engage in advocacy and activism.  Formed in 1994 by Dr. Charles Jacobs after he wrote an article for the New York Times about modern-day slavery in the Sudan and North Africa.

Africa Action  This is a 2001 merger of three groups: The American Committee on Africa (1953), The Africa Fund (1966), and the Africa Policy Information Center (1978).  The purpose of this U.S.-based organization, like its predecessors, is to promote justice, human rights, and a stable peace throughout Africa, partly by working to change U.S. policies toward Africa which undermine such efforts, but also by working with indigenous African organizations that seek to hold their own governments and non-governmental actors to account.

Amnesty International Founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson, AI mobilizes grassroots campaigns across the world to promote and defend human rights–using as its standard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) drafted and ratified by the United Nations.  In 1977, AI won the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1978 it was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award.  To maintain critical independence, AI takes no funds from any governmental entity–and has been known to criticize just about any and every nation for human rights abuses.

American Civil Liberties Union  Founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin and others (mostly members of the pacifist group, the Fellowship of Reconciliation), the ACLU initially focused on defending the rights of conscientious objectors to war, since they had been greatly abused in WWI.  The ACLU is focused on defending the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, especially in the first 10 Amendments ratified in 1791 (usually called the “Bill of Rights”), but also those post-Civil War amendments (13, 14, 15) which applied the Bill of Rights to the states, abolished slavery, recognized African-Americans as citizens, and granted African-American men the right of franchise, along with the 19th Amendment which granted suffrage to women in 1920. 

Anti-Slavery International  The world’s oldest human rights organization in continual existence, Anti-Slavery International dates back to 1787. It now fights modern forms of slavery and slavery-like coerced labor throughout the globe.

Arab Association for Human Rights  Works primarily to promote and defend the rights of Arab Israelis–that minority of Arab Palestinians who are citizens within the State of Israel (not the Occupied Territories).

Asian Human Rights Commission 

Balkans Human Rights Webpages

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty Serving 14 different Baptist bodies in the U.S., the BJC was founded in 1936. It’s focus is on one human right: religious liberty, and on church-state separation as the institutional guarantee of religious liberty.

Baptist World Alliance’s Human Rights Ministries  BWA is the international network of the majority of Baptist denominations in the world. Since its founding at the beginning of the 20th C., BWA has worked hard to promote and defend religious liberty and human rights. Sometimes this has focused on descrimination against Baptists or other Christians, but the BWA has also worked to defend other religious minorities everywhere in the world. It promotes Human Rights Sunday to keep human rights in the hearts and minds of the churches and gives an annual Human Rights Award.  Recipients of the BWA Human Rights Award have included Martin Luther King, Jr., former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Pastor Simon from Myanmar (Burma) working in refugee camps in Northern Thailand, Lauren Bethell of the American Baptist Churches, USA working with exploited women and children in Thailand, Rev. Gustavo Parajon of Nicaragua, etc.

Brennan Center for Justice  Named after the late American jurist William Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) from 1952-1990, the Brennan Center is located at New York University’s School of Law.  It works to promote democracy and human rights and the rule of law.

B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.  Taking it’s name from the Hebrew word for “in the image of” (Gen. 1:27), B’Tselem was founded in 1989 by prominent Israeli academics, journalists, attorneys, and Knesset (Parliament) members to document Israeli abuses of human rights in the Occupied Territories, end the culture of silence and denial in Israel, and create a human rights culture that reflects Israel’s democratic and Jewish identity. It seeks a just two-state solution with Israel withdrawing to the 1967 borders.

Canadian Centre for the Victims of Torture

The Carter Center  Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, on the campus of Emory University, Atlanta, GA, the Carter Center’s mission is to wage peace through conflict resolution, advance human rights, and to alleviate unnecessary human suffering through combatting disease and promoting health and sustainable development.  The Carter Center frequently is involved as an international observer in countries making transitions to democracy (or strengthening fragile democratic traditions) to prevent elections from being stolen by fraud. It has also often been involved in conflict resolution between warring or hostile nations or other groups.  It has now worked in some 65 countries, focusing on not-duplicating the work of others and on achieving concrete results through research and effective, timely, action.

Center for Constitutional Rights  Founded in 1966 by attorneys for Civil Rights groups to use innovative impact litigation to defend movements for social justice.  Since 9/11, CCR has been at the forefront of the struggle to prevent the erosion of human rights in the so-called ‘war on terrorism.’ CCR has recently been the recipient of several important human rights awards:  The Lennon-Ono Grant for Peace; the Lettilier-Moffitt Award (given by the Institute for Policy Studies in the name of two journalists associated with IPS who were martyred by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile); the Hans Litten Prize (presented by the Democratic Lawyers of Germany and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights); and the first ever Raphael Lempkin Human Rights Award presented by the North American chapter of Rabbis for Human Rights. 

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University’s School of Law.

Center for the Victims of Torture

The Constitution Project  Seeks consensus to solve difficult legal and constitutional questions.  It has 7 blue ribbon bi-partisan panels:  The Constitutional Amendments Committee; The Courts Committee; The Death Penalty Committee; The Liberty and Security Committee; The Right to Counsel Committee; The Sentencing Committee; The War Powers Committee. 

Electronic Frontier Foundation  Works to protect free speech and freedom of the press in the new media of the digital age.

Derechos  An internet formed and based organization for universal human rights, focused mainly on Latin America.

Human Rights First  A U.S. organization of attorneys, law students, and ordinary citizens, based in Washington, D.C. and New York that seeks to build respect for human rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of all peoples and to strengthen the legal protections for the same. Formerly known as the Lawyers’ Committee on Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch Founded in 1978 as “Helsinki Watch” to support grassroots citizens groups in Warsaw Pact  nations trying to hold their governments accountable to the Helsinki Accords, a 1975 international treaty on human rights between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations. Helsinki Watch quickly spawned Africa Watch, Asia Watch, and Americas Watch to monitor other human rights abuses and eventually these linked networks coalesced into Human Rights Watch.  It is based in New York, but has offices in Brussels, Bujumbura, Freetown (Sierra Leone), Kigali, Geneva, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, Tashkent, Tbilisi, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. It sends researchers all over the world.  Originally focused on civil and political rights, HRW has more recently worked also to defend economic and social rights–using international law and UN treaties as its basis.  HRW has never taken any governmental funding, directly and indirectly, and values its independence as an international non-governmental watchdog organization.

Madre  Named with the Spanish word for “mother,” Madre  is a New York based international organization focusing on protecting women’s human rights, including health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and preventing violence against women and children.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)  Founded in France in 1971, this is an international organization (with sections in 19 different countries) providing emergency medical relief around the globe, especially in situations of natural disaster and/or armed conflict and also working to call attention to the plight of those it assists.   Each year MSF fields doctors, nurses, logisticians, water/sanitation experts, administrators and other personnel in over 3,800 field assignments where they work alongside more than 22,500 locally hired staff to provide medical care. Operates independently of any government funding or restrictions.  Winner of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.


  1. Dear Dr. White: Being a Muslim, of course I went straight to the “Islam” category : – ) I am the Community Relations Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area. We are a national civil rights and advocacy organization working to build bridges of understanding, with fellow Americans. We know that without justice the can be no peace.

    I want to thank you for the work you are doing to promote peace and justice – especially here in America – and especially from the evangelical Christian perspective. While we differ about who Jesus is – we can certainly come together on his great examples of peace making, while at the same time respecting our differences.

    Blessings to you and your family,

    Comment by Sherrel | September 10, 2008

  2. keep it up

    Comment by kelvin mash kenya | September 22, 2008

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