Thank You

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Dear friends,

Though our journey began in 2001, 2018 is Humanity United’s tenth year as an independent organization. We are using this marker to reflect and consider our path—where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.

Through the years, we’ve had the good fortune of working with many dedicated individuals and organizations who share our vision of a world where all people have an opportunity to flourish. I want to personally thank our friends, partners, staff, and Humanity United’s leadership for their belief in HU’s vision, and commitment to service and deep collaboration.

While we cannot fully honor every partner within this report, we are highlighting a few organizations that have worked alongside us over this time. From our earliest grants to Free the Slaves and Genocide Intervention Fund, to our continued support for the Better Brick Nepal program, we have learned so much from each of you and grown together. Your work and dedication continues to both inspire and inform the growth of this organization.

We are also mindful that though we have made much progress together, our work is far from complete. Violent conflict, atrocities, extreme polarization, and human exploitation continue to afflict far too many people around the world, and we remain focused on the path of service and uplifting humanity together in the years ahead.

An important truth that will continue to illuminate our path ahead is that we are all stronger together. To solve the challenges facing humanity requires compassion, equanimous inclusion, ingenuity, dedication, and a commitment to learning from us all.

On behalf of the entire Humanity United team, we thank you again for joining us in this journey and for guiding us in our pursuit of enduring peace and universal freedom.

As always, we invite your feedback. If you have thoughts on this report, please contact us at [email protected]

With deep respect and gratitude,

Pam Omidyar
Founder and Board Chair


Better Brick Nepal

This program seeks to eliminate the conditions of exploitative labor at Nepalese brick kilns by implementing an incentive-based system to improve labor and business practices and create a strong market for a certified “Better Brick,” bricks made free of forced, bonded, and child labor.


Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Founded in 2002, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is a leading non-profit organization that tracks the human rights conduct of more than 7,000 companies worldwide.


Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing in 1993, CIW is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human trafficking, and gender-based violence at work.


The Freedom Fund

A leader in the global movement to end modern slavery, the Freedom Fund identifies and invests in the most effective frontline efforts to tackle the systems that allow slavery to persist.



With a vision that people worldwide work under safe, fair, and legal conditions, Verité provides the knowledge and tools to eliminate the most serious labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains.


Enough Project

Founded in 2007, the Enough Project supports peace, good governance, and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones.


Nonviolent Peaceforce

Nonviolent Peaceforce is a global non-profit that protects civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies, builds peace side-by-side with local communities, and advocates for wider adoption of approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity.


Peace Direct

Peace Direct is an international NGO dedicated to stopping wars, one person at a time. In conflict zones around the world, Peace Direct supports local people in stopping violence and building long term peace.



Seeking to strengthen African initiatives that address the continent’s most difficult challenges, TrustAfrica focuses on securing the conditions for democracy, fostering African enterprise and achieving broadly shared prosperity, and cultivating African resources for democracy and development.



WITNESS supports human rights defenders using video to expose injustice. Through tools, training and advocacy, WITNESS aims to help individuals document abuses safely and use footage effectively to create positive change in their communities.

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Thank You

from all of us at Humanity United

We have many miles to go, and as we look ahead, our resolve is strengthened by the belief that we can bring about extraordinary change when we are united and act collectively.

Thank you for the important work you do and for joining us along the way.

For a list of our partners, please visit our website.

Better Brick Nepal

A recipe for exploitation

With a growing population, the devastation of the 2015 earthquake, and increasing urbanization, Nepal is experiencing a high demand for the construction of homes, apartment complexes, and modern storefronts. Construction is frequently cited among the largest economic sectors in the country. But, with this increased need for building materials also comes a demand for cheap labor and a lack of incentives for clean or socially responsible brick production at the country’s nearly 1,300 registered brick kilns.

Many of the nearly 300,000 child and adult brick kiln workers are bonded by debt and subjected to extremely harsh living and working conditions. The work is seasonal, so the recruited workers are often from marginalized and low-caste communities and they have little protection against wage theft, abuse, and dangerous working conditions, often working long hours just to make ends meet.

Addressing exploitation

In 2014, HU worked with the Global Fairness Initiative, Brick Clean Group Nepal, and GoodWeave International to develop and launch Better Brick Nepal.

The Better Brick Nepal (BBN) program seeks to eliminate the conditions of exploitative labor at Nepalese brick kilns by implementing an incentive-based system to improve labor and business practices and create a strong market for a certified “Better Brick,” bricks made free of forced, bonded, and child labor. The program is implemented in conjunction with the Global Fairness Initiative, GoodWeave International, Every Home and Self-Reliant Development Organization, Integrated Green Development Nepal, Prayas Nepal, and Urban Environment Management Society.

It addresses the underlying economic factors that drive exploitation, advocates for change at the local and national levels, and raises awareness of workers issues and conditions with key stakeholders. Through its efforts, it has gained valuable insights about the nature of the brick industry in Nepal. It has worked to elevate the bargaining power of workers, supporting them in taking a more active role in advocating for their rights at kilns. It has learned that kiln owners want to be a part of the solution and want to ensure safe working and living conditions for workers. Working with its partners and stakeholders, BBN aims to transform the industry to one that is more humane and responsible, all while ensuring that the industry, and the market it supplies, can thrive through positive change.

“Better Brick Nepal raises awareness of worker issues and conditions, advocates for change, and addresses the underlying economic factors that drive exploitation.”

Incentivizing change

BBN’s approach includes targeted trainings, awareness raising, and a comprehensive audit process that has proven successful in fostering real change. Using an incentive-based approach has proven effective with kiln owners, who cite the technical expertise and recognition by their peers, government, and communities as primary motivators for their participation in the program and desire to reform their labor practices.

Brick kiln workers have noted improvements at kilns that offer them better working conditions, help them better understand their rights, and allow them to advocate for changes. After initially showing resistance to the program, multiple BBN kiln owners have now advocated on behalf of the program amongst their peers—against the immense pressure of industry associations. These kiln owners believe in the importance of the work and its positive impact, and their actions show the widening effect of the program across the industry.

Making progress, brick by brick

There is currently a waiting list of 230 kilns that have applied to participate in the program, and more inquire each year. Of the current kilns in the program, there has been a clear rise in commitment to advance through the program—successfully meeting the required improvements in their labor practices and gaining recognition as businesses operating with ethical labor practices.

The program will continue to push for larger-level systems change, such as altering long entrenched systems of recruiting workers, introducing new approaches that maintain financial benefit for owners and workers alike, and increasing the resilience of worker households to withstand shocks and stresses. BBN believes that changing traditional business practices toward models with zero tolerance for debt bondage and child labor, in conjunction with efforts to lay the foundation for policy change and regulatory enforcement, will eliminate exploitative labor throughout the Nepalese domestic brick industry.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Better business

Like Humanity United, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) believes that business has the potential to both drive positive change in the world, and to create and exacerbate risks and inequalities that harm people and the planet. They inform, amplify, and empower advocates—inside and outside of business—to challenge corporate abuses and raise standards of human rights across global business sectors. The Resource Centre also makes the human rights records of companies accessible and understandable so investors and civil society can hold them to account and provide recognition for positive steps taken.

Founded in 2002, the Resource Centre is an international non-profit organization comprised of 48 people in 20 countries all working to advance human rights in business and eradicate abuse. It draws global attention to the concerns of victims and local civil society around the world, and it maintains expert knowledge of local contexts through its regional researchers spread across 15 countries.

Amplifying voices globally

HU has worked with the Resource Centre since 2015, supporting their evaluations of companies’ efforts to combat modern slavery in their supply chains, as well as their assessments of migrant working conditions in the Gulf states’ construction sector. Currently, HU collaborates with the Resource Centre on two supply chain transparency initiatives: KnowTheChain and the Modern Slavery Registry.

Kenyan access road approved in 2017
Kenyan access road approved in 2017

The Resource Centre works to advance human rights in business and eradicate abuse by empowering advocates and strengthening corporate accountability and transparency. For example, in 2017 the Centre helped Kenyan villagers document the impacts of a local pineapple plantation that had blocked physical access to healthcare facilities, education services, and food markets. After the Resource Centre helped the community raise concerns with the company, the CEO approved an access road for use by villagers. One local women told a researcher that she did not think this would be possible in her lifetime and that the Centre had “helped move the lion.”

The Resource Centre has also worked intensely to improve the conditions of Syrian refugee garment workers in Turkey since 2015. When they started contacting brands about their actions to address exploitation, they found that few were doing enough. After their third round of outreach in 2017, almost twice as many brands could point to specific policies they had adopted to prohibit discrimination and exploitation of refugees. Additionally, twice as many brands could also demonstrate clear remediation and protection plans for finding undocumented Syrian refugees in their supply chain.

“Business has the potential to both drive positive change in the world, and to create and exacerbate risks and inequalities that harm people and the planet.”

Continuing the fight

Going forward, the Resource Centre is empowering more advocates in high-risk countries to counter the most egregious abuse from multiple industries—such as forced labor in Qatar’s construction sector, land confiscations by extractives companies in Mexico, and attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia. The Centre is also supporting advocates in business to push more effectively for corporate transparency, due diligence, and remedy through benchmarks that separate leading companies on human rights from those falling behind. Finally, the Resource Centre is standing with advocates in governments who are pushing for bolder action, from regulation to procurement.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

25 years of impact

Forced labor does not exist in a vacuum—it is rooted in the fundamental imbalance of power between a farmworker and his or her boss, and in a sick economic system that trades the abuse of human beings for profit. But forced labor and other human rights abuses are not inevitable. If the underlying imbalance of power can be redressed, the abuse born of that imbalance can be eliminated, and ultimately prevented altogether.

Over the past quarter-century, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has created the groundbreaking Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model, which has become a blueprint for change for millions of workers around the world. The Harvard Business Review named CIW’s work as “one of the most important social-impact success stories of the past century,” highlighting their success in eradicating sexual violence and harassment, forced labor, and other abuses in U.S. agriculture. The human rights model established by CIW is now taking root in many global supply chains—from garment production and agriculture to the fashion industry and construction.

“To achieve meaningful and lasting improvements, human rights protections in supply chains must be worker-driven, enforcement-focused, and based on legally binding commitments with global corporations at the top.”

From 2010 to 2017, HU supported CIW’s efforts to increase the wages and improve working conditions of farmworkers, including their Fair Food Program.

Fair Food

CIW’s Fair Food Program (FFP), the most mature example of the WSR model, brings together workers, consumers, growers, and corporate buyers in support of humane labor conditions and fair wages in the agricultural industry. Led in part by women and men who have survived—and now fight against—sexual violence and forced labor, the FFP has united tens of thousands of workers, more than 30 agribusinesses, and 14 retail food corporations to prevent abuses on participating farms in eight U.S. states.

The program emerged from CIW’s successful nationwide Campaign for Fair Food and internationally renowned Anti-Slavery Campaign. These outreach programs are instrumental in bringing new buyers into the FFP, as well as uncovering and investigating forced labor operations and sexual abuse outside of the program. CIW’s work rests on a platform of tireless community education and leadership development among the organization’s primarily Mexican, Guatemalan, and Haitian worker base.

Through this program, entrenched and systemic abuses such as wage theft, sexual assault, and forced labor have been virtually eliminated, and $28 million raised through a FFP Premium—a small but powerful produce premium paid by participating buyers—has been paid to workers on FFP farms.

New frontiers

CIW believes that to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements, human rights protections in supply chains must be worker-driven, enforcement-focused, and based on legally binding commitments with global corporations at the top. These three elements form the foundation of WSR, an approach that the MacArthur Fellowship called a “visionary strategy … with the potential to transform workplace environments across global supply chains.”

Today, CIW is a model and consultant for many other programs across a wide range of industries and regions. From the Milk with Dignity Program in Vermont, to the Model Alliance’s RESPECT Program for the fashion industry, to the Bangladesh Accord, CIW aims to help adapt the WSR model to new contexts and transform supply chains everywhere in the next century.

The Freedom Fund

Breaking the bonds of modern slavery

More than 40 million people are trafficked and enslaved today. Modern slavery goes by many names—human trafficking, forced labor, sex slavery—but no matter what it is called, the practice strips men, women, and children of their freedom and exploits them for profit. Ending slavery not only extinguishes an injustice, but also enables people to freely contribute to their community, creating greater prosperity.

The Freedom Fund focuses on dismantling the local and national systems that allow slavery and trafficking to persist, and they empower local frontline organizations by bringing them together in a network which multiplies their collective impact. By supporting frontline partners to become highly influential advocates of systems change, the Freedom Fund believes they can free many more people than they can reach directly.

Supporting the frontline fight

HU, Minderoo Foundation, and Legatum Foundation established the Freedom Fund to raise and deploy $100 million to combat modern day slavery.

Launched in 2014, the Freedom Fund is a leader in the global movement to end modern slavery. Their mission is to mobilize the knowledge, capital, and will to end modern slavery. They identify and invest in the most effective frontline efforts to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking in the countries and sectors where they are most prevalent. Their partners are visionary investors, governments, anti-slavery organizations, and those at risk of exploitation who help tackle the systems that allow slavery to persist.

“Ending slavery not only extinguishes an injustice, but also enables people to freely contribute to their community, creating greater prosperity.”

A multi-layered approach

Since it began operations in 2014, the Freedom Fund has directly liberated 16,047 people from slavery, helped get 36,231 at-risk children back into school, and directly engaged with over 390,000 men, women, and children who are vulnerable to exploitation. To carry out their mission, the Freedom Fund focuses on the following efforts:

  • Working on the frontlines: Partnering with frontline organizations to directly combat slavery in countries and regions where it is most concentrated. They do this by setting up “hotspot” project clusters of highly effective local organizations who are working with the world’s most vulnerable communities.
  • Driving systemic change: Tackling the underlying systems that allow slavery to persist. They do this in their hotspots and through their Global Initiatives, engaging the government, private sector, media, social movements, and other key drivers of change.
  • Strengthening the anti-slavery infrastructure globally: Empowering the anti-slavery movement, providing platforms, tools, and knowledge for organizations to connect and work together more effectively.
  • Raising new capital: Bringing funding and innovative investors into the anti-slavery space, with the goal of mobilizing the capital needed to work on the frontlines and drive systemic change.

Expanding reach

Looking ahead, the Freedom Fund is exploring how their hotspot model could be effective in tackling modern slavery in three other countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, and Myanmar. Another area identified for further investment and support is building the leadership skills of local anti-slavery activists, especially women and survivors.


Empowerment for all workers

Powerful institutions have a responsibility to solve human rights problems where their goods are made, crops are grown, and services are performed. Since 1995, Verité has been dedicated to holding these institutions to account, taking specific aim at serious problems such as child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and gender discrimination. Verité’s work results in increased income for workers, greater opportunities for women, and safer working conditions across a variety of industries.

Verité is a global, independent, non-profit organization with a mission to ensure that people worldwide work under safe, fair, and legal conditions. As a pioneer in social auditing, training, research, advocacy, and consulting on labor and human rights in global supply chains, the organization collaborates with companies, civil society groups, governments, workers, unions, and international organizations to promote genuinely sustainable workplace practices.

“Powerful institutions have a responsibility to solve human rights problems where their goods are made, crops are grown, and services are performed.”

Verité shares HU’s commitment to address and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable workers in global supply chains. Since 2009, HU has helped support Verité’s vision of a world where people work under safe, fair, and legal conditions.

Harnessing the power of information

Verité’s independent research reports have produced nuanced coverage of these complex issues in a variety of top media outlets. Their open-source toolkits provide practical guidance on complying with human rights and sustainability standards, helping companies to adopt best practices in risk assessment, mitigation, and prevention of labor and human rights abuses.

Verité is currently working to bring their services and insights beyond top tier manufacturers and agribusinesses to bear deeper in supply chains to include commodity production, service sectors, extractives, small holder farmers, and the growing workforce involved in recycling. The Verité team is also deeply engaged in public policy innovation, including the promotion of public procurement policies that favor responsible business, effective mechanisms to safeguard rights of migrant workers, linkage of trade and import policies with labor protections, and transparency to create a “race to the top” on sustainability practices.

Looking forward

Verité is optimistic about their ability to help align investor and corporate sustainability interests with worker priorities and empowerment in the coming years. They also aim to ensure that technology is harnessed responsibly for the good of workers worldwide, and they anticipate much progress in building a strong market for ethical recruitment of migrant workers around the world.

Enough Project

Follow the money, find the justice

The area from Northeast to Central Africa is the deadliest war zone globally since World War II. Over the past three decades, tens of millions have died as a result of brutal oppression and armed conflict, and there are almost never consequences for the perpetrators of these crimes. However, through Enough Project’s forensic financial investigations, the organization hopes to provide the evidence needed for the private and public sectors to bring meaningful, sustainable actions against those funding and profiting from genocide and other mass atrocities in Africa.

The Sentry, Enough’s flagship initiative, is a team with decades of experience in law enforcement, intelligence, investigative journalism, corporate security, and policymaking. The Sentry follows the money being looted from resource-rich, war-torn East and Central African countries and tracks where it ends up across the globe. The team collects evidence of illicit financial activity connected to conflict and human rights abuses and then undertakes financial investigations to construct dossiers that can be used by regulators, law enforcement, and prosecutors to take action. The unique value of The Sentry’s approach is their precise and innovative focus on disruptive action using tools for financial pressure.

“Enough hopes to provide the evidence needed for the private and public sectors to bring meaningful, sustainable actions against those funding and profiting from genocide and other mass atrocities in Africa.”

HU invested in the Enough Project in 2007, making it HU’s first investment aimed at combating mass atrocities and crimes against humanity.

Holding the powerful to account

Enough Project is an atrocity prevention organization building leverage for peace and human rights in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with their investigative partner The Sentry, the organization counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and natural resources trafficking. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns.

The outcomes they produce help the people of East and Central Africa in their local efforts to establish more honest and fair systems of government. Enough provides the U.S., international governments, and private sector with information they need to take meaningful action and address rampant corruption linked to armed conflict and human rights abuse. Their investigations and recommendations have resulted in meaningful sanctions and penalties levied on corporations as well as individual government, military, and corporate leaders, as well as their regional and international networks.

Zeroing in on gender-based violence

Over the next year, the Enough Project plans to add a project to address gender-based violence to their portfolio. They are also in the initial stages of a pilot effort to analyze the motivations behind conflict-related, gender-based violence and its connection to broader conflict dynamics in South Sudan.

Nonviolent Peaceforce

Addressing the root causes of conflict

Contemporary conflicts are protracted, multigenerational, and are no longer contained to the battle field. The traditional approach to protection has been to send in armed actors to "enforce" peace, an approach that only addresses a small aspect of the needs of civilians affected by violent conflict.

Globally, we are facing a displacement crisis as more people are running from their homes in search of safety than we have seen since World War II. Countries are dealing with the impact of receiving mass numbers of refugees and communities are being displaced within their own countries—all of which leads to instability, vulnerabilities, and interrupted economies. Nonviolent Peaceforce’s (NP) work has shown that supporting communities, from the bottom up, in implementing unarmed strategies for conflict resolution, violence reduction, and protection reaches the root causes of conflict and allows for sustainable peace.

Interrupting the cycles of violence

From 2012 to 2017, HU supported the Nonviolent Peaceforce’s efforts to prevent violence in South Sudan and improve the safety and security of civilians.

NP is an international NGO working to protect civilians and reduce violence in areas affected by armed conflict. By implementing unarmed civilian protection (UCP) programming, they work to interrupt the cycles of violence that permeate through all aspects of life in conflict-affected communities. NP is currently active in six countries, including their largest country program in South Sudan, as well as Iraq, Syria, Philippines, Myanmar, and most recently in Bangladesh.

Through NP’s policy and advocacy engagements they aim to help shift the global paradigm that privileges the resources of armed actors as a tool for civilian protection and conflict resolution, to more sustainable, civilian-led, nonviolent approaches.

The organization was founded by David Hartsough and Mel Duncan, two long-time peace activists. The two met at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace, where they shared their ideas and visions on sustainable peace through non-violent means. NP was officially founded three years later, at the 2002 Peace conference in Surajkund, India.

“Contemporary conflicts are protracted, multigenerational, and are no longer contained to the battle field.”

Building peace from the ground up

The UCP approach relies on building relationships of mutual trust and understanding with all parties of the conflict. Working alongside local communities and civilians, NP’s everyday activities are diverse, ranging from protective presence and accompaniment, to monitoring ceasefire mechanisms, to supporting self-sustaining local protection infrastructures.

In South Sudan, ten women’s peacekeeping teams (WPT) have been formed and trained by NP’s local colleagues. These teams work with a variety of UCP methods, including accompaniment, dialogue, rumor control, and early warning/early response. Some teams use their peacekeeping methods with families, intervening in plans for early marriages, which often occur when families are facing economic hardship and marry off their girl children in exchange for cattle. The WPTs work with family members, encouraging them to avoid these marriages and keep the girls in school. These courageous women then train other women to defend their children, encourage them to report rape, and accompany them throughout the legal process.

Shifting the global paradigm

NP’s goals for the future include increased field work, doing more where it is most needed. The organization regularly receive requests to go into new locations outside of their existing six country programs. They are working to strengthen the organization to allow a positive response to these requests while continuing to build UCP as a field of practice.

NP is also conducting a global good practices process, bringing together practitioners, academics, policy makers, and UCP beneficiaries to learn from one another and build case studies, training tools, and common resources to serve as a force multiplier.

The organization is also using their learning and experiences from the field to help shift the global paradigm around the protection of civilians—advocating with the UN, member states, regional bodies, policy makers, and donors to prioritize civilian-led approaches to conflict prevention and civilian protection.

Peace Direct

Building local capacity for peace

There is growing evidence that local knowledge, insights, and action are vital to transforming many of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Despite this evidence, the international peacebuilding ecosystem still focuses largely on external interventions and INGO-led efforts—and Peace Direct aims to change that.

From early warning and early response efforts that can alert communities—and the world—of impending attacks and prevent an escalation of violence, to the long and painstaking work of rebuilding lives and livelihoods after a conflict has ripped apart communities, local civil society peacebuilding capacity remains the most underused and underrated asset present in every conflict-affected country.

Peace Direct considers it a scandal that only two percent of humanitarian funding goes to local actors—who are almost always the first responders in emergencies—and they understand that the peacebuilding sector is no different. That’s why Peace Direct is determined to shift power and resources to local civil society and, in doing so, they hope to see more resilient communities, greater peacebuilding capacity in some of the world’s most fragile countries, and reduced levels of violence. Their experience of working in more than fifteen countries in as many years has demonstrated that that locally-led peacebuilding can be highly effective, cost effective, scalable, and sustainable if given the right support at the right time. Peace Direct understands that transforming the system will take years, but they believe that momentum for change and evidence of what works is increasingly on their side.

Global reach, local action

Over the last 10 years, HU has supported Peace Direct’s efforts to engage grassroots peacebuilders in a number of conflict contexts, most recently in Burundi. This year we are proud to be one of the sponsors for Peace Direct’s Annual Peacebuilder Awards.

Peace Direct is currently working with local peacebuilding organizations and networks in some of the most challenging conflict-affected countries—from Somalia and DR Congo, to Syria and Pakistan. They also maintain a network of local peacebuilding experts in more than 30 countries who have their finger on the pulse of civil society peacebuilding efforts.

Much of Peace Direct’s work focuses on identifying and supporting promising peacebuilding organizations, helping them to grow, learn from others, and scale up their work. Their role is not to tell these organizations what to do or how to implement directly—an approach which so often ends up displacing local efforts. Rather, they focus on accompaniment, walking alongside local actors to help them think through their challenges. They serve as a critical friend to these organizations, providing funding and technical support when needed, putting them in contact with other likeminded organizations in their country and internationally, and amplifying their voices to the international community.

Over many years, Peace Direct has helped nurture organizations that are now recognized as leaders in their field, both nationally and internationally. By sharing these examples with the international community, they hope to inspire donors and policymakers to shift their approaches to stabilization and peacebuilding, and to the financing of peacebuilding itself.

“We know that transforming the system will take years, but we believe that momentum for change and evidence of what works is increasingly on our side.”

Strengthening the constellation

Peace Direct is moving into an exciting new phase of work, with increased focus on the local peacebuilding ecosystem rather than just the exceptional cases that prove that local peacebuilding works. They want to invest heavily in strengthening the constellation of local actors working for peace in conflict-affected countries, and to do this they are piloting new ways to provide their accompaniment model at scale to dozens—and, in time, hundreds—of organizations and groups in each country.

These efforts will require significant resources, but Peace Direct believes that a strengthened local peacebuilding ecosystem will be a game changer for the prospects of peace in those countries. At the same time, the organization is investing heavily in learning and evaluation to strengthen the evidence base for local peacebuilding and in national and international advocacy efforts to shift the power away from external interventions and closer to the frontlines, to the people who will be stopping the violence and building peace long after the international NGOs have gone home.


Focus on the future

When citizens are effectively engaged in political and economic governance, TrustAfrica believes that societies become more equitable, more stable, and more prosperous. Yet across Africa, civil society organizations lack the skills and resources to make this happen. At the same time, states themselves are often unable—or lack the political will—to deliver on development and governance agendas. The future of the continent requires both functional states and empowered civil societies, and TrustAfrica crafts its programs to strengthen both sides of the equation.

TrustAfrica was created in 2006 with the conviction that Africans must set the agenda for the continent’s development and take the lead in its implementation. As an African-led, pan-African foundation, they strive to secure the conditions for democratic governance and equitable development throughout the continent. They do this by convening dialogues to set priorities, awarding grants, building knowledge, strengthening institutions, and providing technical assistance. TrustAfrica has built a solid reputation as an advocacy organization and efficient intermediary for international donors interested in investing in Africa, particularly in areas where civil society is weak and political contexts are fragile. They have played an active role in developing African philanthropy, which has great potential to enhance African agency.

Advocacy in action

A consistent partner since 2010, HU has collaborated with TrustAfrica on numerous initiatives aimed working with African civil society at confronting pressing challenges for the continent. HU Senior Fellow, Akwasi Aidoo, is also the former executive director of TrustAfrica.

TrustAfrica has a strong focus on advocacy, particularly on building the capacity of civil society to secure achievements in the field of good governance—from advancing democracy and human rights, to fighting corruption and impunity for major political and economic crimes. Their campaign to stop illicit financial flows (IFFs) from Africa, called “Stop the Bleeding,” has galvanized compelling research, energized policy makers, and captured the imagination of activists across the continent who adopted it as this year’s Africa Day theme.

Other long-term work has created the space for a multi-stakeholder dialogue between international justice institutions, the African Union, justice institutions of the African regional economic communities, and civil society organizations. They have also stewarded over $80 million in support of African civil society organizations, awarding 600 sub-grants to organizations in 35 African countries. They identify and nurture groups that are not on the radar of donors, and have seeded several leading civil society organizations, bringing new voices and innovation to addressing tough problems.

“When citizens are effectively engaged in political and economic governance, TrustAfrica believes societies become more equitable, more stable, and more prosperous.”

Collaborating for impact

TrustAfrica has long used their convening mandate to bring actors together to reflect and strategize on common challenges. These gatherings have birthed some of their most successful programs, including the Zimbabwe Alliance and the International Criminal Justice Fund. Their work analyzing the civic space in different regions of the continent has also provided a platform for exchange and collaboration between civil society organizations facing similar threats.

Today, TrustAfrica supports learning and exchange between the various popularly-led social movements that have emerged throughout the continent since 2011,and through the Gateway Zimbabwe initiative, is pioneering a highly innovative and adaptive social lab approach to address the root causes of conflict in Zimbabwe. TrustAfrica is providing a vital platform for Zimbabweans who might not otherwise engage with each other to build trust and co-create solutions in the face of the deeply polarizing nature of Zimbabwe’s protracted conflict. The inclusive space will also foster and incubate domestically driven responses to support sustainable peace in Zimbabwe and share lessons with the wider international peace building community.


Mobilizing activism

With the proliferation of mobile devices, much of the world’s population now has a camera in their pocket, and people everywhere are turning to video to document and tell stories of abuse. But all too often, citizens are not filming safely or effectively, and their videos aren’t making the impact that they could. WITNESS ensures that videos can be trusted and verifiable, that activists stay safe and manage risk, that important videos can be found amidst mass volume, and that new technologies enable greater citizen participation. WITNESS’s work aims to remove the barriers to human rights impact and ensure that when activists and citizens risk their lives to bear witness, they are safer and more effective in the pursuit of truth, accountability, and justice.

“WITNESS envisions a future where human rights defenders are fully equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to expose human rights abuses.”

From 2012 to 2015, HU invested in the work WITNESS was leading to enable citizens to document, protect, and defend human rights.

Technology for good

WITNESS is a global leader at the intersection of human rights and technology, working with grassroots communities, lawyers, and technology platforms to ensure a future where video and technology can accelerate human rights—not stand in its way.

They were founded in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles, California, which showed the world the power of citizen media. Over the past 26 years, the organization has supported activists in more than 100 countries, building trusted networks of people using video and technology to expose abuse, demand participation, and counter hateful narratives.

Empowering video vigilantes

For the past eight years, the WITNESS team has been working closely with activists in Syria who are risking their lives to capture footage and hold abusers accountable. Recognizing the critical need to verify and archive videos of war crimes in the pursuit of justice, they helped to build the Syrian Archive with local partners. To date, this archive has preserved 1.5 million pieces of media, and verified 4,500 videos that are being gathered as evidence by bodies like the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, whose mandate is to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the crimes in Syria.

As similar levels of abuse and injustice occur against the Rohingya population in Burma, WITNESS understands how critical it is to start archiving evidence now. They are working with a Rohingya-run organization to build their own archive, modeled from best practices from their experience in Syria. They hope to replicate this model as a critical tool in war crimes investigations around the world.

Growing the network

WITNESS envisions a future where human rights defenders are fully equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to expose human rights abuses. To become an even stronger global network and take their impact to the next level, they are focused on the following areas:

  • Expanding learning and sharing channels to ensure that tools get into the hands of those who need them most and movements learn from each other.
  • Deepening regional presence and capacity to respond.
  • And pushing the frontiers of innovation to ensure that emerging technologies—such as live streaming, virtual reality and artificial intelligence—serve and protect the most marginalized.