Social Movements and Grassroots Groups

Social Movements and Grassroots Groups


Social movements - based among and representative of people and communities directly affected by social injustices - are central agents of societal change, and their collective action is critical to the realization of human rights. ESCR-Net’s Working Group on Social Movements and Grassroots Groups brings these organizations together to strengthen mutual exchange, promote shared analysis and facilitate relationships of solidarity and support, enabling them to more effectively define, defend, and advocate human rights worldwide.


  • Overcome the perceived isolation of many grassroots groups and deepen mutual learning by facilitating regular communication and strengthening cross-border solidarity
  • Strengthen and amplify the struggles of social movements to advance human rights through capacity-building,  connections with diverse organizations and collaborative development of resources
  • Promote the centrality of analysis and leadership of social movements within ESCR-Net and the wider field of human rights
  • Facilitate the collective efforts of social movements to increase their power and effectiveness, by creating spaces to develop shared analysis, collective strategizing, and joint action toward challenging systemic injustices



Social movements, by engaging in mutual learning and developing ties of solidarity across borders, will be more effective in influencing decisions that affect them and realizing ESCR in practice. Ongoing communication and collaboration amongst social movements will help develop a shared analysis and enhance their capacity to use collective, public action to confront global conditions and challenge systemic patterns of injustice.  


ESCR-Net has provided ongoing support to members facing threats to life, land or livelihood. In June 2011, ESCR-Net collectively urged the Government of India to refrain from the forcible acquisition of lands and the criminalization of human rights defenders resisting a steel plant project, which prompted a positive response by the National Human Rights Commission and an investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. Then, in May 2012, similar collective action was instrumental in preventing the eviction of 65 fisherfolk families in Pakistan. 

Following a workshop for social movements challenging forced displacement in the name of “development” coordinated by ESCR-Net, several participants joined together in a formal alliance. one of the participants shared: “It is important to learn from the struggles of social movements in many parts of the world. … sharing experiences and learning from each other was very important… Hope the links we built will be continued and will mutually strengthen our struggles. The commitment of the ESCR-Net team is appreciated, as well as the participants to success of the work.”


Read about the Activities and Actions of the Social Movement Working Group, here

Check out some resources related to the Social Movement Working Group, here 


Moderators, Coordinators, Steering Cmte. Members: 

Coordinator: Thea Gelbspan tgelbspan[at]

More Information: 

Coordinator: Thea Gelbspan tgelbspan [at]

Featured Attachments: