Hope, not fear: A new model for communicating human rights

“Amnesty has shone a torch of hope into his cell, maybe precisely when its inmate is sunk in the depths of despair and degradation.”

Why human rights cannot thrive without hope

This refugee’s story changed the way I think about human rights today

My grandmother with my aunt in a Swiss refugee camp.

If she hadn’t survived, I would not be here today. Sara was my grandmother.

A story of sorrow? Or a story of hope?

My grandmother, grandfather and aunt back in France after the war.

Here are four steps to communicating positively about human rights to win the battle for public opinion.

Step 1. Hope, not fear

“When they go low, we go high.”

Politicians have become expert at manipulating emotions to stoke fear and mistrust.
My grandparents, aunt and mother outside their shop in Alsace after the war.

Step 2. Change the frame

Ask yourself: Which character best personifies the human rights movement today? Which one are people most likely to listen to?

Step 3. Our vision

A protest against the death penalty. What does a world where the death penalty has been abolished everywhere look like?

Step 4. Faced with dehumanisation, we have to re-humanise

Look Beyond Borders, a poignant video experiment breaking down barriers between recently-arrived refugees from Syria and Somalia and people from Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK, made by Amnesty International Poland and Polish ad agency DDB&Tribal.

A checklist for positive communication

The darker the world, the brighter the candle seems to shine. The deeper the despair, the greater the value of hope.

Joy in action: Fred & Yves go free in the DRC.
p.s. Sara Dawidowicz lived to the ripe old age of 102.

Founder, Hope-based comms. Human rights strategist. Blogging about world literature in my spare time.

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Thomas Coombes

Thomas Coombes

Founder, Hope-based comms. Human rights strategist. Blogging about world literature in my spare time.

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