Human Rights Tools

Our Theory of Change 

Cristosal’s theory of change begins with the idea that victims of human rights violations have rights which are established both in domestic law—primarily the constitutions—and international human rights frameworks and instruments. This is what we mean when we say they are “subjects of rights”. From there, we focus on the responsibilities of States towards all people as “duty bearers”. Governments have an obligation especially towards those who are in vulnerable conditions, such as victims of violence and violations of their fundamental rights. 

We often begin by providing assistance and accompaniment to victims and the collectives to which they belong at the moment they require more support. Then we work towards building their capacities and knowledge, so they are in a better position to demand respect for their rights and to demand from the State and other actors the guarantee of rights for others like them. When victims and their groups make progress in the recognition of their rights, they organize and mobilize to demand that   government actors at the local, national and regional levels recognize their responsibilities to respect and protect human rights through their actions, institutions, laws and policies.

Direct Victim Assistance 

We use humanitarian, psychosocial, and legal assistance models for victims of violence and human rights violations. These models are adapted from internationally recognized ways of supporting victims in their process of accessing justice and re-making their lives. They are customized to the particular contexts of victims and their groups. We work in alliance with them as well as other civil society organizations, public institutions and the media to promote a rights-based approach to pervasive social problems and to collectively analyze and propose solutions to decision-makers.



We design, participate in, and use research to generate evidence at the regional, national and local levels on existing and emerging human rights phenomena. We use research to enrich the capacity of organizations and collectives to present evidence for proposals and policy by promoting research, documentation, data and evidence generation, learning and disseminating knowledge about human rights and security. 

Strategic Litigation 

Our legal teams use the judicial system not only to bring justice directly for victims, but can improve access to justice and respect for human rights for victims now and in the future. Strategic litigation is selective of cases whose outcome has potential for having a significant impact on the public policies and legislation and can set precedent for structural changes in justice systems both nationally and regionally.

Strategic Communications 

We use a variety of media to articulate voices from the resilient experience of victims and the organizations identified with the cause of victims for the promotion of a culture of respect for human rights. In contrast to narratives that stigmatize victims and human rights defenders, we creatively and persistently educate, denounce, and promote the dignity of every human being.

Community Development with a Rights Focus  

Our community development programming addresses the immediate needs of relocated victims and their families to integrate into a safe community, as well as long-term structural needs and the creation of environments that respect human rights. Community development, as a human rights-based approach to development, with the aim of promoting favorable human rights environments in the closest circle of victims where rights are exercised and restored: the community.

Human Rights Education

We use dialogue, experience-based and horizontal learning as a tool to promote the empowerment of victims in their rights and to strengthen the community of allies and leaders for human rights. We promote dialogue and learning throughout the Americas to build solidarity and allyship across borders and cultures.