Conflict & Justice

11 human rights groups to support if you're looking for better karma in 2014


Patrick Bova (R) and Jim Darby share a kiss at a ceremony where Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois marriage equality act into law making the state the 16th to allow such unions on November 20, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.


Scott Olson

If you've resolved to do more good deeds in the new year and find yourself short of ideas on how to do that, allow us to suggest some human rights organizations you might consider supporting.

The choices are vast, from women’s rights groups who threw themselves into conflict to reveal the use of rape as a weapon of war; to those who fought against their own cultures and legislative bodies in the name of justice; to LGBT advocates who stood against abuse in countries like Russia and Uganda and witnessed victories in Uruguay, the United States and France. There are groups that focus on the health of the planet’s children and the health of the planet itself. Here are 11 organizations to consider watching and supporting this year:

1. The Environmental Defense Fund

The EDF works toward environmental health on a global scale. From conservation of forests, vulnerable species and habitats, to encouraging the development of clean energy technology and fighting to reduce air pollutants that affect human health—this group is one you'll want to keep an eye on if you're interested in climate and energy, ecosystems, health and oceans.

2. WMC's Women Under Siege

Women Under Siege is a project at the Women's Media Center, devoted to investigating how rape and sexual violence have been used as tools of conflict and weapons of war both (recent) historically and in present time. The project explores the link between sexual violence and conflict, in an effort to "heighten public consciousness of causes and preventions" for future conflicts.

3. Human Rights Watch

With regional offices and experts across the globe, HRW is one of the biggest independent human rights organizations in the world. In there own words, HRW researchers, activists and experts "investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable."

4. American Jewish World Service

AJWS not only aims to educate the American Jewish community about global issues, they focus their support and funding on grassroots organizations throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas as well. The group works toward diminishing hunger, disease and poverty in the developing world, providing opportunities for education, and are one of the largest financial backers of international LGBT rights movements.

5. Freedom House

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that promotes freedom worldwide. They do so by "empowering citizens to exercise their fundamental rights." Their activists are on the frontlines of protecting human rights and efforts toward democratic change.

6. Las Damas de Blanco

Orginally a group of women dissidents in Cuba, fighting for the release of their imprisoned husbands and sons as political prisoners, they have become a well-known organization of pacifist activists for justice, freedom of expression and thought.


This group is one of only a few international feminist human rights groups based in the gobal south—New Delhi, India, to be exact. Crea works to advance the rights of women and girls, as well as the sexual and reproductive rights of all people, through partnerships and programs at the grassroots, national, regional and international levels.

8. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

As one of the leading international LGBT rights organizations, IGLHRC advocates for the elimination of discriminatory laws, supports the implementation of anti-discrimination laws, works to "reduce family, community and state sanctioned violence," and advance economic, social and cultural rights.

9. Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps staff works in "failing states," conflict zones, and countries that have endured natural disasters, building food security, and economic and educational opportunities. Based in Boston, this group works in over 45 countries around the world.

10. Equality Now

Equality Now dedicates its focus to descriminatory law, female genital mutilation, trafficking and sexual violence. The group partners with grassroots organizaitons to heighten awareness of individual stories and provide legal advice on cases.

11. Partners in Health

PIH is a world-wide project aimed at providing preferential healthcare to the poor, through what it calls a "medical and moral" mission based more on solidarity than charity. This group addresses health issues in countries from Haiti and Peru, to Russia, the United States and Navajo Nation.