Human Rights Advocate Program

Organisation:  Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Apply By:  31 Jan . 2018

Human Rights Advocate Program
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HRAP’s comprehensive program of advocacy, networking, skills-building, and academic coursework provides advocates the opportunity to hone practical skills, develop a deeper understanding of human rights, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with organizations and individuals in their respective fields.

More than 300 advocates from over 80 countries have participated in HRAP since 1989.

Program Overview

After completing the intensive four-month program, Advocates are able to more effectively lobby for their causes and address the human rights concerns of their community. The comparative advantages of the Human Rights Advocates Program are its:

  • Comprehensive program of academic coursework, faculty mentoring, skills-building workshops, and networking.
  • Emphasis on individual and organizational capacity building
  • Affiliation with Columbia University and location in New York
  • Weeklong networking trip to Washington, D.C.
  • Alumni body of 308 human rights advocates in more than 86 countries


Advocates audit at least two graduate level courses at Columbia University. Advocates attend classes at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Law School, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Arts; Sciences, the School of Social Work, Teachers College and Barnard.

Skills-Building Workshops

Advocates attend a number of skills-building workshops led by staff from organizations including Human Rights Watch and WITNESS. The workshops strengthen their effectiveness as individual advocates and allow them to build stronger organizations in their respective home countries. Topics include fundraising, campaign strategy, advocacy tools, media relations, stress management, and research and documentation.


Throughout the four-month program, Advocates are able to meet with a range of human rights organizations, international institutions, foundations, donors, and policymakers that are based in New York City. Each year, Advocates also participate in a networking and advocacy trip to Washington, D.C.

During group and individual meetings, Advocates share their unique grassroots knowledge and learn more about the strategies and best practices of other human rights organizations. These meetings also often lead to joint projects and funding opportunities.

Advocates are frequently invited to participate and attend panel discussions and lectures, both at Columbia University and throughout the United States. During such events, Advocates are able to raise public awareness and promote the work of their organizations.

The four-month program gives Advocates time and space to reflect on their work and share their experiences and insights with one another. HRAP also facilitates relationship-building among alumni of the program. For example, since 2010, the Director of Capacity Building has been recruiting HRAP alumni to lead workshops for program participants.

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