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Human Rights Movements and Institutions

The Open Society Foundations fund human rights groups around the world, from global advocacy organizations to smaller national and local groups, that stand up for the rights of all.

$77.3M 2020 budget for Human Rights Movements and Institutions 
6.4% Percentage of global budget
3.4% Average annual change in budget since 2016

2020 Human Rights Movements and Institutions Budget by Region

      Explore our full budget by theme and region

      Our Work

      We are committed to upholding the rights described by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—from civil and political rights, such as the right to free assembly and freedom of speech, to economic and social rights, such as the right to education, food, and housing.

      The promotion of human rights informs all our work—and has helped shape our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Human Rights Initiative focuses in particular on challenging impunity and ensuring accountability, tackling discrimination and abusive practices in law enforcement and criminal justice, and defending freedoms of expression, assembly, and association.

      Demonstrators kneel and demand action against police brutality, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 2, 2020. © Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty

      Supporting Human Rights Movements

      A Human Rights Watch campaign billboard calling for an end to the waste management crisis in Beirut, Lebanon, on January 19, 2018. © Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty

      In 2010, the Open Society Foundations gave a challenge grant of $100 million over 10 years to Human Rights Watch to support global expansion—the largest single donation commitment Human Rights Watch had ever received.

      Challenging Authoritarian Regimes

      Students in Budapest, Hungary, hold up signs showing an angry emoticon during protests against the government's education policy on January 19, 2018. © Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty

      Many of the human rights groups we and others support around the world have come under attack from increasingly authoritarian governments. From Hungary to Egypt and elsewhere, their courage and commitment inspires our efforts. 

      Accountability for Human Rights Abuses

      Military staff at an airbase near the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, on November 9, 2005. © Vadim Ghirda/AP/Shutterstock

      We support efforts throughout the world to end human rights abuses linked to government counter-terrorism efforts. This support has included seeking to strengthen overview and accountability for the use of armed drones by the United States and its allies, and challenging the program of illegal rendition and torture of suspects launched by the CIA after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

      Economic Justice

      Our work on economic and social rights has included using European rights law to challenge mortgage-related home repossessions in Ireland, and using rights arguments to challenge corruption in Sierra Leone. 

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