RARE II Camp 3

Hope-based communication

The workshop, led by human rights communication expert Thomas Coombes, focused on how hope-based communications, a concept that is gaining increasing attention in the world of human rights campaigning and advocacy, can be applied to increase support for human rights among audiences and counter negative, populist messaging. 

“An important subject matter professionally taught.”

Hope-based communications is a powerful tool for inspiring positive change in the world. It is based on the idea that by emphasizing hope and positivity, rather than fear and negativity, we can motivate people to take action and create meaningful change. This approach is particularly important in the realm of human rights advocacy, where the challenges can often seem overwhelming with stakes being incredibly high.

During the workshop, participants learned a range of skills and techniques for using hope-based communications to advance their work as human rights defenders. They were introduced to a variety of new approaches to communicating effectively, including storytelling, social media campaigns, and interacting with the media. Participants also had the opportunity to practice these skills in a supportive and collaborative environment, receiving feedback and support from their peers and from Thomas Coombes himself. 

“It was a mind-blowing change of perspective!”

Key takeaways from the workshop were the importance of showing how human rights can contribute to a positive societal vision by highlighting values, emphasizing the progress that has already been made, making several strategic shifts in the way they communicate about their work. Participants also learned how to use visuals, such as photos and videos, to tell compelling stories and connect with people on an emotional level. 

Overall, the workshop was a valuable opportunity for European human rights defenders to come together and learn from one another, as well as from an experienced and knowledgeable facilitator like Thomas Coombes. By focusing on hope-based communications, participants gained valuable skills and insights that will help them to create and communicate positive change in their communities and beyond.  

In Berlin, participants also had the chance to network and connect with representatives of donor organisations and political foundations working in Germany and globally. We are grateful for the cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll Foundation in Berlin, who hosted RARE at a reception and networking chat, providing participants with valuable insight into the history of Germany’s political foundations and working methods.  

Over an informal working lunch with the representatives of the Open Society Foundations’ Europe and Central Asia Program, the RARE group discussed the context and challenges for human rights defenders working in the EU space.  

Further, to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Ukraine, on February 24th the group attended the opening of an art exhibition of contemporary Ukrainian art, demonstrates the persistence of creative energy despite the harshness of war.