By Tia Haygood, Community Services Director
Happy New Year to the FEW community!
This month we are featuring another phenomenal NGO in the Tokyo area, Human Rights Now!
Human Rights Now (HRN) is Japan’s first home-grown human rights advocacy organization founded in 2006 by a group of attorneys, scholars and journalists. The NGO currently has 700 members who work towards the promotion and protection of human rights in Asian nations as well as nations outside of Asia. HRN acts as the native hub for human rights in conjunction to its international counterparts including London’s Amnesty International and New York’s Human Right Watch.
HRN cover many issues including women’s rights, children’s rights, and empowerment projects. For over 10 years, they have worked to hold countries such as China, India, the Philipines, Myanmar and more to address violations committed and to create steps to reverse those violations. HRN members, Kelsey Lehner and Cade Mosley where gracious enough to answer a few questions during the holiday season and were very open about HRN’s successes and a few of its challenges.
As an NGO, HRN also faces funding challenges similar to other NGOs. Due to HRN’s unique UN special consultative status, it is imperative for the organization to stay neutral in its approach and relies heavily on grants and donations..
Another challenge unique to Human Right Now is awareness. Awareness of human rights violations and awareness of how people such as FEW Japan members can be of help to international victims of human rights abuse. According to Mosley, people just like you and I have significant power to hold international governments and corporations accountable for their actions or their decisions that directly or indirectly condone human rights abuse. Because potential volunteers view themselves as powerless against international human rights crimes, it can be difficult for HRN to get audiences to have empathy for the human rights victims they are trying to rescue.
An example of how great they are, HRN supported their Hong-Kong based partner, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), to release an investigative report on labor rights abuses in a UNIQLO supplier factory. Following a press conference on the report HRN began an awareness raising campaign. Both created a lot of media attention. HRN then began negotiations with the operating company which owned the factories in question. The two sides were able to come to an agreement for the company, Fast Retailing Group, to release a plan to improve working conditions at the almost 150 known factories. HRN continues to this day to follow up on ensuring Fast Retailing continues to implement all of the points in its plan and to eventually disclose all of its suppliers. This was one of HRN’s proudest moments and is proof of how powerful the real awareness of human rights abuse is.
How can we make this amazing organizations become even more powerful in combating human rights crimes? HRN are currently selling 2018 calendar to fund their work. You can purchase one in English at email@example.com. You can even donate directly via their website.
Other human rights advocacy groups in the Kanto area:
Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims
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Rina Bovrisse - The Accidental Activist : From Chanel to Governor of Tokyo?
Join us for the first meeting of the new FEW year to hear from Rina Bovrisse about how she became an accidental activist working in the fashion industry and ending up with a burning desire to get into politics.
Midweek Lunch Mixer
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering, this time at Blu Jam Cafe in Daikanyama!
Note: The Lunch Mixer will take place on a Wednesday!