UCSJ: “Building up Tolerance”

The project “Building up Tolerance: A Grassroots Approach to Strengthening the U.S.-Russian Dialogue By Fostering the Relationship Between American and Russian NGOs” has been designed by peer organizations from the USA and Russia, Union of Councils for Jews form the Former Soviet Union (UCSJ)[1] and Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG)[2]. Both share a long history of working together to promote tolerance and are respected human rights organizations in their countries. This project aims to establish a U.S.-Russian dialogue among human rights NGOs to combat the issues of intolerance in the sphere of hate crimes, religious freedom, national tolerance, and various types of xenophobia.  This shared goal provides many opportunities for discussion and the development of strategic plans in cooperative activities that are directed at eliminating different types of discrimination.
The project uses the best practices of the involved NGOs in their respected countries and encourages closer cooperation between the United States of America and the Russian Federation. The project demonstrates workable instruments and successful experiences used by different audiences: youth groups, academics, and specialized and human rights NGOs, on both sides of the Atlantics. The project target audience includes human rights NGOs and experts in both countries that deal with issues of intolerance. The overarching project outcome is strengthened coalitional mindset of the participating actors. Intolerance issues cannot be overcome by just two organizations; it is important to develop a wide peer-to-peer movement on this topic.

 

Launched in October 2013 the 10-month-project intends to deliver the following outcomes:

  • defined agenda (i.e. strategic development plan) for future programs on intolerance in both countries;
  • discussion platform, online resources (www.stop-hate.org) and resurrect Coalition against Hate[3];
  • Guidelines for human rights schools on treating intolerance, hate speech, etc. (in English and Russian).

 



[1] UCSJ – Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, founded in 1970. From 1970-1991, UCSJ led the grassroots movement to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate, and spoke out against anti-Semitism and human rights abuses in the USSR. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, UCSJ created human rights organizations in the various new countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Today, UCSJ reports on the human rights situation in countries throughout Eurasia, exposing hate crimes and assisting communities in need. UCSJ uses grassroots-based monitoring and advocacy, as well as humanitarian aid, to protect the political and physical safety of Jewish people and other minorities in the region. Www.ucsj.org

[2] MHG – Moscow Helsinki Group, founded in 1976 as watch-dog organization for observation of implementation of obligations by the Soviet government taken as a result of the Helsinki Agreement in 1975.  The eldest independent human rights organization in Russia that gave life to the whole Helsinki movement in the world. www.mhg.ru

[3] CAH – The Coalition Against Hate and the CAH Blog were established in 2009 to ensure better coordination between UCSJ and partner NGOs throughout the former Soviet Union (FSU). The Coalition against Hate’s uniqueness is that it is the only existing platform of cooperating NGOs and activists primarily from Russia and the USA that discusses problems of nationalistic hatred, religious intolerance, and xenophobia. Due to lack of funding, the CAH’s online presence has dissolved from one multifaceted website with multiple forums for human rights advocates into two separate, basic blog websites. This hinders the flow of communication among the various groups

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