Empowering Civil Society and Promoting Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the North Caucasus

This project enables the North Caucasus region’s civil society to become stronger, more resilient and more effective as a force of change, by helping grass-roots activists and their organizations take on essential challenges – building powerful local constituencies, staying safe amid threats and resisting repressive policies, participating in regional and global human rights discourses and movements.

From 2016 to 2018, a European Commission grant of around 600,000 euros has enabled Peacebuilding UK and our partners to increase the scope of this work. The project has provided training for legal professionals, law students and civil society representatives in North Caucasus republics on a broad range of legal, technical and managerial skills. It has also included sub-granting to 14 NGOs, online outreach mechanisms, raising awareness among domestic constituencies (legal system, Federal Ministries) of human rights issues, a 4-republic human rights film festival and legal internships on European Court of Human Rights litigation.

We aim to increase the capacities of local NGOs to sustainably conduct their work from a substantive, operational and fundraising perspective, with special attention to innovative approaches, such as diversification of funding sources, collaboration between NGOs and strengthening ties between defenders and the community. The project has enabled increased practical and theoretical knowledge on the part of legal professionals and law students in the North Caucasus of fundamental human rights and how to defend them. The project has also increased awareness of civil society initiatives and the work of human rights defenders and ways to seek redress for human rights abuses among the general population in the North Caucasus.

The specific aims of this project are:
1. To increase knowledge and applied skills among local legal professionals and NGO staff concerning the content of fundamental human rights, such as equality before the law and freedom of expression and association, and practical ways to defend these rights.
2. To empower civil society groups in the North Caucasus by increasing their capacity to promote and defend fundamental rights of residents of the North Caucasus, enhance their reputation and influence in their communities, ensure their compliance with Russian NGO legislation, promote mutual solidarity and improve security for human rights defenders, and develop new funding opportunities domestically and internationally.
3. To promote human rights values and raise awareness of the work of human rights defenders among the population through innovative media and cultural initiatives.