As Executive Director of the freshly established HRLC in May 2006, Phil Lynch started the HRLC’s monthly bulletin as a six page Word document that he circulated via email amongst the centre’s small (but impressive) supporter base. Today, he tells us he still gets excited when it appears in his inbox.
Having had the privilege of working with the HRLC over its first seven years, I’m now working with the International Service for Human Rights (www.ishr.ch) in Geneva.
ISHR’s mission focuses on supporting human rights defenders in their engagement with the UN and, in this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to work with literally hundreds of NGOs from all regions of the world. Among other things, this has given me a comparative perspective on the work and impact of the HRLC, and the characteristics that make it a truly world-leading NGO.
Four characteristics stand out in particular…
First, the HRLC has a higher output and more significant impact than any comparably-sized NGO I have seen, offering an incredible return for donors. This is attributable, in part, to the second distinctive characteristic, being the HRLC’s relationships with leading pro bono law firms and barristers and its ability to access and leverage the enormous expertise and capacity this represents.
It is also attributable to the third characteristic, being the incredible dedication, professionalism and expertise of the HRLC staff – they’re not just among the leading human rights lawyers and advocates in Australia, but the world.
Finally, the HRLC is distinctive as one of the very few NGOs in the world to use such a range of tactics – from impact litigation, to policy advocacy, to media commentary, to UN engagement – in such a strategic and coordinated way. This is evident in their recent work to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, which has included High Court litigation, submissions and evidence to parliamentary inquiries, frequent media appearances and opinion pieces, and lobbying and advocacy at the UN in Geneva.
I congratulate the HRLC and all those involved in the production of Rights Agenda on the publication of this 100th edition and look forward to the publication of many hundreds more!
Phil Lynch is the Eexcutive Director of International Service for Human Rights.