2019 saw the growth of social movements across the world; from environmentalists to feminists, people from different countries, different ages and different world views took the decision to actively make their voices heard and to participate in the construction of dynamic democracies.
This wave of activism is an important reminder of the power of collective action and conviction. Activism has, and continues to, shape the world; holding power to account, pushing for social change and denouncing violations. Activism has caused seismic shifts in discourse, changing people´s perception and behaviour and forcing the creation of new laws and protections for the most vulnerable members of society.
Those who make their voices heard are activists, and activists are human rights defenders. Whether joining an Extinction Rebellion march, forcing governments to uphold their promises to decarbonise our economies and prioritise the health of our planet, or bravely standing up to aggressors and denouncing sexual violence, these courageous people defend their own rights and in doing so, defend the rights of others, upholding justice and pushing for fairer societies.
Despite the importance of activism, it still comes at a price. Standing up to power, going against the grain and questioning the status quo can be risky, especially in contexts of violence. At PBI we believe that international solidarity can lower these risks. The more people involved in upholding human rights, the less risky the work becomes and the greater the achievements of the global social justice movements will be.
2020 will be a year where activism will remain key to ensure that those in power respect the masses and make the changes necessary to protect the planet and create conditions of wellbeing for its inhabitants. For this activism to be successful, it must be supported by the solidarity of people across the world.
This is PBI´s model, encouraging global solidarity to support the defence of human rights. It has successfully protected activist, social leaders, lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders for nearly 40 years in different parts of the world and continues to do so thanks to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers and staff members whose conviction and trust in this model never wavers.
Solidarity is strength in connection and collaboration forged by the empathy we feel as interconnected individuals across the world. It is the opposite of individualist capitalism that has destroyed the social fabric in so many countries and forces us to believe that we are independent of each other and that our success depends on others´ failures. Solidarity is the hope that many of us seek in this concerning time in world politics. It offers a sense of community, collective responsibility and possibility.
Huge challenges remain, but PBI is confident that by fostering solidarity and meaningful connections between people across the world, we can overcome the difficulties and create societies that provide for the most vulnerable, where the rights of each individual are protected for the benefit of societies as a whole. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to continuing to strengthen global solidarity and activism in this new decade.