Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Brazilian philanthropists and the Open Society Foundations will provide support to Conectas Direitos Humanos, a São Paulo-based organization defending and promoting human rights in Brazil and globally. Investments from domestic and international funders will strengthen the capacity of the organization to lead and monitor legal cases in defense of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Juana Kweitel, executive director of Conectas Direitos Humanos, says Brazil has become a new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations including Black communities and indigenous people. She says these challenges have been compounded by hostility towards human rights from the country’s current political leadership. According to the executive director, Conectas Direitos Humanos will increase its capacity to use strategic litigation as a tool to promote and protect fundamental rights. She says the Open Society Foundations will provide $1 million per year for the next five years and commit to implementing a strategy to raise funds from domestic and international philanthropies at a one-to-one ratio. “A strong and vibrant civil society is essential for democracy and the profound attacks on democracy and freedom we are experiencing should be a call to action for Brazilians to consciously support organizations that defend the rule of law. We are excited to see Brazilian philanthropy coming together to strengthen the culture of giving and diversify funding sources for civil society in the country,” says Kweitel. Beatriz Bracher, executive director of the Instituto Galo da Manhã, says they are seeing rights violations taking place at an alarming rate and it is therefore imperative that we all take steps to challenge these setbacks to protect democracy. She says litigation is a vital tool for promoting change and preventing setbacks in human rights. This strategy can be used in the country’s highest courts as well as in defense of individuals or groups in cases in lower courts, making a positive impact on society as a whole. In addition to litigation, Conectas uses other strategies to bring about change, including advocacy with international bodies like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, campaigns aimed at mobilising the public and trainings for activists. Pedro Abramovay, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Open Society Foundations, says with a global reach, Conectas Direitos Humanos is one of the leading human rights organizations in Brazil, and has a long record of effectively combining communications work and policy advocacy with legal action. He says this is a combination badly needed in times of rising authoritarianism and increasing setbacks for human rights. The leadership of Conectas Direitos Humanos defines its’ goals and activities with the approval of the board of trustees comprised of well-known Brazilian academics and professionals dedicated to defending human rights. Their work is supported by private domestic and international foundations, in addition to bilateral and multilateral donors that share their values and vision. Conectas does not accept funds from the Brazilian government, partisan organisations or political parties.