What is RARE?
Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) brings 25 leading European human rights defenders together in a two-years capacity- and alliance-building programme. As a solidarity alliance, RARE is co-organised by partners from academia and civil society: the Hertie School, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Oxfam Novib.
From Fall 2022 till Summer 2024, 25 leading staff members of civic organisations from all over the EU will take part in a total of 10 high-quality skills and knowledge building events (camps) as well as collaborate on developing and implementing a joint project related to civic space in the EU. Participants will forge connections with and join RARE’s first group. Resource persons and expert contributors at the camps will be drawn from Hertie School faculty, leading civil society and multilateral organisations as well as think tanks. Our vision is that after 20 months, participants will become better equipped to build stronger organisations and cooperate in a stronger alliance, built on collaboration towards a common agenda on fundamental rights and rule of law in the EU.
We all care about
We are recruiting 25 senior representatives of leading locally-rooted/national civic organisations from any EU member state.
be staff members in a senior/(potential) leadership position who could be future multipliers for their organisation and the civic sector;
be representing a civil society organisation with an existing track record of high-quality work on fundamental rights and rule of law issues within EU member States, or an organisation that has taken the decision to start engaging in this area;
bring perspectives from gender, digital and privacy advocates, from religious/faith-based, migrants’ and refugee rights and humanitarian actors as well as from trade unions and from organisations. We are also looking for representatives of social movements, focused on the green agenda, climate change and sustainability;
have proven ability/capacity and willingness to advocate for pan-European civic space protection / expansion beyond and be commited to developing and cooperating long-term with fellow European civic organisations;
represent civic organisations with potential for growth in and impact on their national settings;
have the support of their employer organisation to participate as part of their job duties in the full program;
be fluent in English (written and oral).
RARE participants commit to joining all virtual and in-person camps, to actively participating in the joint advocacy project, to engaging their organisation and existing networks in contributing to and realising RARE’s goals and to establishing new partnerships along the way.
As part of RARE, participants will be invited to engage in a variety of occasions to highlight the project's aims and its underlying main themes, such as high-level panels, publication of op-eds, policy briefings and papers. All this is part of our mission to boost the visibility of RARE participants and the defence of civic space, fundamental rights and the rule of law in EU member states.
The 10 camps will allow participants to gain essential skills and knowledge to grow as civil society leaders, strengthen and widen their networks to enhance the protection of civic space and the rule of law in the EU, and learn new skills and techniques to master political and digital challenges.
The organisers will strive to cover participants' costs related to attending the camps.
This is our indicative journey:
(Locations and dates may be subject to change)
Introduction to the organisers, one another, RARE as a programme and the joint advocacy project. Evaluation of specific course needs and mapping of potential actors and networks in dialogue with the participants. Activities will focus on forging bonds between the participants, identifying common values and highlighting many of the topics that would form the core of subsequent camps. Includes brainstorming activities on how civic space and the rule of law in Europe could be strengthened and introduces cohort II to the joint advocacy project.
The camp will bring together Cohort 1 and 2 with the aim of forging connections between the two groups, relaying the work that has so far been done with regard to an EU Civic Space Strategy. It will also offer skills training benefiting both groups on how to become confident and competent public speakers, using methods of persuasion. Participants will understand how to structure a speech, avoid complexity, detail, wordiness, clichés in political rhetoric and know how to apply this guidance to the actual speech drafting. Furthermore, they will receive practical knowledge on how to overcome obstacles to the delivery of convincing speeches and other public appearances, they will deliver a political /policy speech in a comfortable and convincing manner.
The work of HRDs is about imagining, advocating for and making change happen, but this has become increasingly challenging in complex or even restrictive political and social contexts. In this camp, participants will look at how to frame and deliver their messages on civic space and the rule of law in new and creative ways. They will start by examining their political contexts, the drivers of populism and move on to examining and experimenting with effective new ways to describe their values and visions of the future to various audiences.
Strengthening the internal leadership of the participants' organisations is essential for their long-term survival and success. Will focus on how RARE participants can use personal leadership to protect and strengthen their organisations from within during times of change and crisis, but also how to inspire others to take similar action. The camp will also look at ways in which participants can guide their organisations through periods of change.
In Vienna, the group will continue to meet potential allies: the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, OSCE/ODIHR as well as Austrian civil society actors with EU advocacy experience. Finding out about the mandate and activities of these organisations, RARE participants will inquire how their work can be fed into their work streams. The camp will also focus on carrying forward the policy paper on civic space in the EU, which is part and parcel of a rounded communications strategy. If we want our arguments about the desirability of an EU civic space strategy to stick and if we want our arguments to influence policy (or to help give birth to a policy idea), we must learn how to communicate key messages as clearly as possible, also by writing longer briefs. As advocacy targets – primarily European Commission officials and MEPs – are busy and they receive too much information, the group will train how to write concisely and devoid of jargon. The camp will discuss how to structure a policy paper, write an executive summary, tailor recommendations and present policy choices vis-à-vis policymakers.
This camp will forge stronger links and relations between RARE participants and the Council of Europe as well as relevant political actors in the Netherlands, through exchanges with CoE units and Dutch stakeholders active in developing and implementing tools to protect the rule of law and human rights. Participants will take away practical insights on standards, policy and programme development in the Council of Europe and its units. Moreover, participants will meet Dutch parliamentarians, senior government officials, leading Dutch civic actors, academics and think tanks who share an interest in furthering the rule of law within the European Union and ties with human rights defenders. The camp will also offer an opportunity to launch discussions about the joint project in RARE and solicit views and support for it from CoE and Dutch counterparts.
The OSINT camp will enable rule of law defenders to independently carry out high quality monitoring activities using open-source monitoring techniques. It will provide RARE participants with skills related to gathering, verifying and analysing videos and images, conducting comprehensive social media research and performing open-source data collection and verification. The training will include sessions on advanced web-searching techniques and verification principles, advanced social media research, geolocation and maps, and satellite resources.
This camp will focus on equipping participants with the deep networking skills they need to develop long-lasting connections on EU-level that they can use to protect and empower their organisations, including by developing sustainable relationships with funders. Participants will see how to maxi-mise the value of their network and will discuss how to balance various moral, ethical and strategic dilemmas in their activism. This will be complemented by a variety of meetings with NGO network members and NGO stakeholders located in Brussels. Envisioned visits include organisations such as: Open Society European Policy Institute, European Policy Centre - Connecting Europe Programme, philanthropic organisations, as well as various EU member state representations and EU institutions, including meetings with European Parliament committees and MEPs.
Participants in RARE1 were in favour of learning more about security related issues, including both the harder aspects of security (digital security) as well as its softer aspects (self-care, burnout prevention). RARE will look for opportunities to cooperate with NGOs focusing on this topic to offer a jointly organised camp on this topic.
The closing camp will review progress on the joint strategic action plan and further develop plans for joint advocacy activities in respect to the collaborative project on expanding civic space within the European Union. It will also allow the cohort to reflect on the broader achievements of their two year-long programme and recommend adjustments to the programme for the next RARE cohort (should the programme continue).