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APF workshop focuses on storytelling for human rights

Graphic: Participants at the APF Communications Network

The importance of using human stories in campaigns to advocate for legal and social change was the focus of a recent APF communications workshop.


The importance of featuring compelling human stories in campaigns to advocate for legal and social change was the focus of a recent APF workshop on media and communications.

The workshop for members of the APF Communications Network – held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 26-28 April 2016 – brought together 20 representatives from 17 national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region.

Participants shared their experiences of integrating personal stories into successful NHRI campaigns and national inquiries. They also discussed the human rights dimensions of collecting and sharing personal stories, especially when working with vulnerable groups.

In addition, the workshop featured a half-day practical session on creating digital stories, using accessible web-based programs and platforms.

"Across traditional and social media, storytelling is the dominant narrative of our times," said APF Expert Communications Consultant James Iliffe, who facilitated the workshop with Professor Judy McGregor, former EEO Commissioner with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

"To build public awareness and support for our work, NHRIs need to collect and share powerful stories that connect with others and bring human rights issues to life."

Graphic: Participants practiced their interview skills

During the three-day workshop, participants described the success and challenges of using social media; planning, implementing and evaluating advocacy campaigns; working with journalists; and monitoring media reporting of human rights issues.

There were also practical sessions on responding to a "media crisis", as well as preparing for and giving television interviews.

Participants also discussed the steps they could take as a group to share examples of good practice and support each other in their human rights education and advocacy work.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, who generously hosted the workshop, described their innovative work to establish "mobile camps" in 14 districts across the country to monitor the human rights situation following the devastating earthquake of April 2015 and advocate on behalf of individuals and communities.

During the workshop, which coincided with the first anniversary of the earthquake, the Commission launched two major reports; one on the overall human rights situation in the country, and the other on the sharp rise in human trafficking in the wake of the disaster.

Following the workshop, the Australian Human Rights Commission featured a story on its website to share the experiences of their Nepali colleagues.

Date: 16 May 2016


Image credits

  1. Participants at the APF Communications Network - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal
  2. Participants practiced their interview skills - APF