How to Stand Up For Human Rights in The New Dystopian Era

Learn how to better inform, educate, activate, and defend human rights at home and around the world, while protecting yourself and your sanity

We are facing difficult times. And you know it's time to act.

You're someone who wants to contribute to building a better world.

You want to create the kind of society your kids will feel safe growing up in.

It pains you to see people not being treated fairly, being discriminated against because of their religion, the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation ...

You wish you knew how to really help.

Wish you knew more, so that you could be a more effective ally.

Wish you knew what would actually make a difference.

Sometimes it is just too emotionally exhausting to think about where to even start.

All around the world, human rights are being violated, civil society is being silenced, social justice is being curtailed.

You see it every time you log on to Facebook, every time you are on Twitter.

When you switch on the TV. Listening to the radio in the car. Talking with friends.

The fear. The questioning. The worry about what's to come.

The confusion about what can be done. The feeling of helplessness.

We keep saying to each other "this is getting real", "we need to step up", "we must be engaged and active", "#resist", "#resist", "#resist" ...

What we really mean is ...

"What can I do to stop this?"

"Where should I be spending my time, my money, my energy?"

"How can I really make a difference, I'm just one person?"

Is it one more day of phoning politicians' offices? One more batch of postcards?

One more online petition? One more donation to the volunteers?

'How To Stand Up For Human Rights In the Dystopian Era' is about learning human rights advocacy 101.

It's about answering those questions, for people who want to do more but don't know what or how.

This program will provide the theoretical and practical background needed to enhance your ability to defend human rights.

It will help you figure out where you're best placed to act.

It is simple, interactive, timely, and affordable.

During our six-week program, you’ll gain an understanding of what human rights are, what it means to be a human rights defender, exactly what steps you can take to make a real difference to the world today, and how to feel safe and take care of yourself and those around you while standing up for human rights.

You'll be part of a powerful motivated group of people learning how to create the kind of world we all want to live in, one where people are treated with dignity and respect, and the rights of all are protected and fulfilled, helping you to be a successful advocate for your rights and the rights of others, in a way that is sustainable and adaptable to your own life.

If you are looking for a way to deepen your knowledge and understanding, build practical approaches, get inspired by others' experiences, and learn about proven tools for progressing human rights advocacy, this program is for you.

No guilt, no overwhelm, no #FakeNews. Just real information and realistic ideas.

This program is for people based all around the world (not just for people in the U.S.A., and not just those outside the US!).

It is suitable for people from all walks of life, and is not intended for just a specialist audience.

It is for people who are standing up for human rights, on their doorstep or internationally.

It's for anyone concerned about the increase in global attacks on human rights and interested in learning how to defend against further backwards steps.

Feel like you don't know enough about human rights? Perfect, that's what this program is for!

From how to fight Trumpageddon, to how to talk to your family members who think a ban on Muslims would be OK.

Spread over 6 weeks, with modules released each Monday and Friday, this new live program is starting 20 February 2017, and runs until 31 March 2017.

There are 10 modules in the program, with 2 free bonus modules of resources and fun for those who enrol before 20 February (because yes, defending human rights can be fun!)

What we'll learn together:

  1. What are Human Rights? Why do Human Rights matter?
  2. What is a human rights defender? What does it mean to be one?
  3. What do we really mean by Human Rights?
  4. Taking Action: Step 1: Inform, educate, communicate
  5. Taking Action: Step 2: Influencing Decision-Makers
  6. Taking Action: Step 3: Leadership through Activism
  7. Taking Action: Step 4: Using Human Rights Mechanisms and Legal Remedies
  8. Taking Action: Step 5: Donating to Human Rights Defenders
  9. Safety and Security as a Human Rights Defender
  10. Self-Care for Human Rights Defenders
  11. Bonus Session: Using Humour
  12. Bonus session: Q&A AMA

We'll cover topics from how art = activism, to how to keep yourself safe and secure when asserting your rights.

From whether the right to health means everyone should have free access to health-care ...

... to how to get the United Nations to pay attention to the issues you care about.

Here's what you get:

  • 12 modules of online learning program
  • tools and guides for how to defend human rights
  • a group discussion forum
  • facilitation by a real human rights expert
  • access to all resources and materials until at least end September 2017
  • a bonus live webinar where you can "ask me anything"

The 12 modules will be delivered over a period of 6 weeks. Twice per week you will receive an email telling you about the next module that has been released and inviting you to enter the online classroom, where you will find information and resources, including videos and audio recordings, reading materials, actionable exercises and worksheets, questions for reflection, that relate to that topic. Each "module" will contain between 4-6 "lessons". You dive into the modules and complete the lessons at your own pace, on your own schedule.

The tools and guides that will be shared via these modules will help you to develop ideas and plans for how you can advocate for human rights to be protected and respected in your community. They are tried and tested, and recommended by experienced advocates.

We will explore the topics and discuss questions, concerns, and ideas, in a private community, via our Facebook forum. Connecting communities of like-minded people, and providing clarity and nurturing, is a big focus of this program. It's also a bit part of what I am about personally, and with my mix of coaching and mentoring skills, and my experience as a human rights advocate, I will work very hard to facilitate a great environment for you to learn.

And there's no rush -- the program will remain available to you for most of this year, there's no pressure to "keep up" or do it all at once, and the discussion group will remain open to you long after the program has finished.

Your friendly facilitator

Hi, I'm Claire Mahon, and I'll be your facilitator for this course! I'm an experienced human rights lawyer (attorney) based in Geneva, Switzerland (the home of the United Nations human rights work), and I've worked for 20 years internationally and domestically on protecting and promoting human rights.

"My work as an international lawyer specialising in human rights law and practice has led me to work with people from all walks of life, from presidents and other world leaders, to grassroots activists, labourers, homeless people, and almost everyone in between. This has been a privilege and an honour, and the lessons I’ve learned through these experiences I want to share with others who are learning how to change the world.

The people I work with are those who unashamedly want to create a better world for all, where human rights and human dignity are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

Together, we figure out how to do this, and what information and resources are needed ...

And we have fun while doing so!"

I am the founder and Director of the Global Human Rights Group, a social enterprise comprising of the not-for-profit NGO the Global Human Rights Clinic (which focuses on offering experiential learning opportunities), and the not-just-for-profit boutique consulting firm, the Global Human Rights Consultants LLC. I also work as a coach and mentor, developing global advocates, change-makers, and leaders.

I have worked for Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UNDP, amongst others. I was an advisor to the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and contributed to his country missions and annual reports to the United Nations. And I was a Special Advisor to the Hon. Mrs Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland.

Previously, I was a senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, and the co-Founder of the Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. For seven years, I was an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, coordinating their Geneva International Fellows Program. I also taught at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and I still regularly teach at other universities around the world as a guest lecturer in various courses on international human rights law, international organisations and public international law.

I am lucky to have had experience designing and providing training on international human rights law and practice to diplomats, advocates, field officers, UN staff, and students in over 40 countries.

Most importantly, I'm passionate about human rights (and chocolate, and naps!)

How much does it cost?

We're offering several different options for enrolment, depending on your capacity to pay:

  • FREE if you become a Patron of our work for $10 per month or more ***
  • $25 for those who are currently unemployed or under-employed, students on limited income, those working on minimum wage or below, people with disabilities, and others who cannot afford the regular fee. I warmly invite you to accept this half-price option if you need it. You will receive all the same benefits and be able to access all the same features that are offered to those paying the regular fee.
  • $50 for everyone who doesn’t identify with or belong to one of the previously mentioned communities
  • $90 for those who are able to sponsor another participant in need, or who wish to gift an enrolment to a friend, colleague, or family member

*** Note: If you would like to become, or are already, a Patron of Claire's on Patreon, there is no need to enrol. Please pledge your sponsorship directly via Patreon (or check to ensure your sponsorship is up-to-date) and you'll be sent a coupon for free enrolment very soon!

Whether you're disappointed in the way your fellow citizens care for each other ...

or you're angry at your government ...

and wanting to fight the changes brought about by leaders like Trump, Erdoğan, Duterte, Le Pen, or the like ...

or you are concerned to ensure that so-called moderate leaders like May, Modi, Turnbull, Key, Hollande, etc,

protect human dignity and rights for all people, from all walks of life ...

Join us for this program!

Together, we will learn more about how to better inform, educate, activate, and defend human rights at home and abroad, while protecting yourself, your safety, and your sanity!


Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke

Having Claire as a professional and experienced human rights expert and coach to guide, facilitate and add to the discussions was invaluable for me. The workshops contributed greatly to me discovering new solutions to ... challenges that I'd never thought of before. As a young and aspiring person it is imperative to learn from experienced professionals, and Claire shared extremely generously from her wealth of experiences, both professionally and about life in general.

Rasmus Sandvoll WeschkeDelegate, International Committee of the Red Cross
Sarah McDowell

Being given the opportunity to gain insights into the world of international human rights through the excellent tutorage of Claire and her team was fantastic. They are obviously passionate about their areas of expertise and enthusiastic about sharing their experience and knowledge with those around them. This passion created a great learning environment for me and resulted in a wide range of fascinating discussions.

Sarah McDowellDiplomat, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Cade Badawy

Claire teaches you the skills needed ... and by guiding you through discussion helps you to explore ways to manage challenges. ... Her knowledge of international law and international relations is exceptional, and as a practising international human rights lawyer, she is able to offer practical insights not always possible from others. The cost of the course is minimal when compared to the skills and knowledge obtained ...

Cade BadawySolicitor, private practice
Sophie Pollock

Claire is a talented human rights advocate with amazing experience to share. Claire has been my mentor and friend since 2012 when I undertook an Internship at the Global Human Rights Clinic. At that time I had discovered my passion for human rights but was unsure how to pursue a career in the field. Claire opened up the world of human rights for me by giving me the space to pursue research interests and showing me the ropes of the United Nations. As a result of Claire's encouragement I
followed my passion and gained a masters in human rights law from the University of Essex. I have been working in the human rights field ever since. Claire’s advice comes from real world experience; she is honest, she is encouraging and she's always there when you need her for career advice, assistance with projects and as a friend. She provides all this support with a great sense of humour and a smile on her face. I am confident that with out Claire’s continuous support, guidance and encouragement I would not be where I am today. I look froward to continuing to work with Claire and the Global Human Rights Group in the future.

Sophie PollockLegal and Grants Officer at Media Legal Defence Initiative
Benjamin Pynt

My time with Claire Mahon helped me define my area of interest and enabled me to focus on achieving goals she helped me set. Without exaggerating, Claire changed my life by encouraging me to explore areas I would not have found on my own. Her experience in international relations and international human rights law practice is invaluable to anyone who has a fair idea of where they’re going, but lack the knowledge to turn passion into productivity on their own.

Benjamin PyntDirector, Humanitarian Research Partners

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Frequently Asked Questions

No, this program is not just for those living inside the U.S.A.!

We will be using examples and ideas from around the world to help you think about, plan, and implement your human rights defending no matter where you live and no matter what issues you care about.

I'm not American, and I don't approach things from an American perspective. That said, I have taught and worked with people from the USA for many years, so I have a fair bit of insight into those perspectives!

While some of the focus will be on the way in which the current political situation in the US has spurred many people into action, and will provide guidance on how to further this action, we welcome participants from all over the globe so that we can learn from each other and our different experiences, and so that we can see how human rights matter to all of us, both at home and internationally.

In short, non-Americans are welcome! Americans (north and south) and USians are welcome! Everyone is welcome!

No, I'm a pacifist, I don't condone bashing anyone!

OK, seriously, there certainly will be some verbal take-downs of the policies and stances of numerous political leaders, including Mr Trump, during this course. Why? Because of their human rights violations!

So, if you are of the opinion that leaders like Mr Trump are doing a great job at protecting human rights for all, then this is probably not the program you're looking for.

This has nothing to do with whether they, or you, or I, am right-wing or left-wing, or believe in God or gods, or fairies or unicorns, or are gay or straight or multicoloured ... Every government, of every political persuasion, has some problems when it comes to respecting and protecting human rights. And that's something to be critical of, but more importantly, it means we need to learn how to improve the situation for everyone everywhere. Not for "those poor people over there", but for you and me and everyone in our own communities. I'm much more about fixing the problem than I am about just pointing the problem out. And I don't believe human rights is about "speaking up for those with no voice" -- usually it's much more about shutting up and listening long enough to allow affected communities to participate in decision-making.

This program is definitely not just about so-called "naming and shaming" -- human rights is much more than this, and so too is human rights advocacy.

On the other hand... if you're looking for a place just to vent and rage, this is also not the program you're looking for.

We are going to get serious, get practical, and get equipped to counter arguments that often come up in the debate around politicians and their human rights implementation, and we're going to have fun doing it. So there will be some swearing, there will be some venting, but all in the process of moving towards figuring out what to do about situations that annoy us (because they are "against" human rights), so that we can move on and work together to build a better society.

YES! This course is for you if you care about the world and its people and what's going on. It's for you if you think that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. It's for you if you are interested in addressing that feeling of knowing NOTHING about human rights and want to learn more.

It is not a course that is designed just for experts, or just lawyers, or just for people who already know what they are doing. Those people will benefit, sure, but it's not addressed towards a specialist audience.

It's addressed to you, the person who has never been political in their lives until recently and now you just know you have to do something but you really don't know where to start. Yes, together we will figure out the answers to the questions "what can I do?", and "where do I start?", and "what if I don't know enough?".

And of course it is also addressed to you too, you amazing human rights defender who has already done so much -- I guarantee you, there will be new things for you to learn, skills to brush up on, and experiences to share -- it is not sooo basic that you won't find yourself learning and enjoying!

As much or as little as you like!

You are encouraged and welcome to follow along and participate actively as each module is released (every Monday, allowing you all week to process and progress, and every Friday, allowing you all weekend). But there's no obligation to do this.

As each module is released, you will have access to the wealth of information and resources for practical advocacy that are contained, and these are yours to work with at whatever pace works best for you.

We estimate that it might be most useful to think of allocating about 2 hours per module, but you might want or need more or less time than that.

This program is designed to be spread over 6 weeks, with modules released each Monday and Friday. We will begin this new live edition starting Monday 20 February 2017, and it will run until 31 March 2017. There are 10 modules in the main program, with 2 free bonus modules of resources and fun (because yes, defending human rights can be fun!).

In each module that is released, there will be 4-6 "lessons", many of these will include practical ideas, inspiration, and activities, and how much you read and do is up to you!

You will be sent an email every time a new module is released, and you can access it and work through the lessons in your own time.

Because the program is delivered online, it is always accessible, and it will remain accessible to you until at least 30 September 2017. Same goes for the Facebook group where we will conduct most of our discussions around the content of the program.

Don't worry, there is no such thing as falling behind in a program like this!

While we will be delivering 2 modules every week over a period of 6 weeks, you will have until the end of September 2017 to access all the program modules and materials. Access to the Facebook discussion group will also continue beyond the end of the live program. Because the program and discussion group are all online you can access them whenever you want.

You are welcome to use this program however slowly or quickly you would like, and to engage (or not) in whichever modules most appeal to you, in whatever order suits you best. This is your program, use it as you wish! There are no rules to when we are called to Stand Up for Human Rights!

This program will be delivered to each participant at the same time, and so for those who are following along at the same rate as the modules are delivered, the discussion in our closed Facebook group will provide a live accompaniment to what you're learning in the program and a way of deepening your understanding and engagement.

In addition, you will be invited to join in the live webcast Q&A at the end of the program, where you can ask me (Claire, your facilitator) anything!

All throughout the program, we are using examples and issues that are of real interest in the world right now, particularly very timely issues related to impact of current world leaders, like the U.S. President, and the work of activists around the world to fight for human rights in the face of these challenges.

Welcome to the club! I also live in an inconvenient timezone when it comes to many online courses, and nope, this will not matter at all!

As the program and discussion group are all online you can access them whenever you want. While the modules will be released on Mondays and Fridays (at 11am Central European Time to be exact!), you have plenty of time between "drops" to access and process them whenever you want.

The only time-dependant component will be the live Q&A webinar at the end of the program.

For the live webinar, we will endeavour to ensure this is at a time that is the most convenient to the most people, but guaranteed there will be some people for whom this is not going to be held at a convenient time. Rest assured, it will be recorded, and there will be ample opportunity to engage and ask questions in the Facebook group, no matter what time of day or night!

Yes! Once you are enrolled, you will be invited to join our online discussion group on Facebook.

You will be encouraged to post your reflections, questions, comments, and experiences, in the Facebook group as you progress through the program. If you don't want to, we'll be encouraging you to keep your own journal instead (or as well as).

I (Claire, your facilitator) will be regularly present in the Facebook group to contribute to the discussions and answer questions.

Each module has questions and issues that you will likely want to engage in discussions with others about.

We have deliberately priced this program to be extremely affordable. $50 USD represents only a small fraction of the effort (time, knowledge, experience, and love) that has been put into developing and delivering this program. The reason for pricing the program in this way is to encourage as many people as possible to be able to participate -- we want the tools for human rights advocacy to be available to everyone! The more people that we have who are equipped with the ability to stand up for human rights, the less likely it is that our future will look like a dystopia!

That being said, we completely understand that $50 may still be a big stretch for many people, particularly those who are already committing themselves to studying or volunteering in the human rights sector, or those who are suffering from human rights violations themselves. For that reason, we are offering a half-price discount for those who are unemployed, students, persons with disabilities, or on limited income. We ask you to self-select this reduced fee option to pay $25 if this is applicable to you. No need to show proof -- we trust that you will select this enrolment option if your situation warrants it, and we ask you to act in integrity if you don't genuinely fall into the categories mentioned.

If you cannot afford the half-price reduced enrolment fee, and you believe this program will really benefit you, we'd love to still be able to assist!

We are offering some scholarships to people in need, particularly those actively engaged on social justice and human rights issues, and those who are able to act as multipliers for this information (i.e. people who will use the information in ways that shares their knowledge wider and multiplies the number of people who can benefit from this work). If you think this is you, please contact us directly at with the subject line "H2SU4HRs Scholarship". We look forward to hearing from you!

The ability to provide these scholarship rests also on the willingness of others to help subsidise them -- so if you are able to pay more than the nominal $50 enrolment fee, we will welcome you with open arms and grateful hearts! Any additional contributions you can make will help us to enable more and more people to learn how to stand up for human rights, making you a super-duper human rights defender!


Sorry, got a bit excited there.

Uh-huh, yes indeed. Please. Please, please, please!

We are relying on the generosity of some of our supporters to help us be able to provide scholarships for those who are in need.

We are hoping to provide scholarships to people who are already particularly active in social justice and human rights causes, and who can help be "multipliers" of this work, i.e. who can help spread and share the things they learn in this program with others through leading by example and through their committed advocacy efforts.

Sounds good, right? Want in? There's an enrolment button specifically for you, if you are feeling generous enough to help us provide a scholarship to an amazing person who would not otherwise be able to participate.

Already know who you want to support in doing this program? Got a friend in mind you'd like to gift this to? Well go you, you awesome friend you!

We would love to help you make this gift special and pass it along to the person you've chosen. All you have to do is send an email with the name and email address of your desired recipient to and we will make the magic happen.

And if either of these situations apply to you -- THANK YOU. Really, thank you. It's people like you that make the world a better place.

We don't want anyone to feel pressure to do this program because of a fear of missing out or a false sense of scarcity.

This is the only live edition we are planning for this year, but please don't be upset if we decide this is so fun we need to run it more often! At this stage, that is not on the cards. It will be fun, just not likely that we'll run a live version again soon!

One thing is for sure -- on 1 April 2017 we will open the program for self-study enrolments, i.e. no live component, but for those who wish to access the resources and learn in their own time. This self-study program will be a different price, it will cost more, as this first live edition price is a special offer just for this round, to encourage as many as possible to join us and to benefit from the live interaction that will come with this version of the program.

If you can't join us now, and want to take the self-study version later, please rest assured the price is not going to be ridiculously high -- the same values and intentions will remain! Just make sure to get yourself on our mailing list so that you will be the first to know when the next sessions are, if any, and when we release the self-study version!

Thanks for asking, this is an important question.

The purpose of the course is for you to take what you learn and use it in your life, your work, your advocacy and your activism. BUT ... that does not mean that you are entitled to take the contents of the course, the materials, the writing, the videos, or the program itself, and replicate it, copy it, use parts of it without permission, etc.

Learn from it, don't take it! Develop your own resources and ways of passing on the learnings, don't steal mine!

I trust you are smart enough to know the difference, and filled with enough integrity to honour that difference.

If there are materials that interest you and you'd like to use in your own training programs, or any other context, please absolutely do get in touch with me ( to let me know what you're planning on using it for and ask permission. It's quite likely I'll have other useful resources to share as well, so it will be worth your time to do this!

And, as is normal, I'll ask you to credit where the materials came from, because that's in accordance with a human rights approach, respecting others and their work and their right to their own intellectual property. And you know I'm all about sharing the learning, so I'm going to be all in favour of you doing this!

The main point is that this is my work, my livelihood, how I earn my living (or, more importantly for me, how I am able to support our NGO in continuing to do the work we are doing). So sharing is caring, and permission and credit are expected and respected!

Fantastic! And I'd love to help you with that!

I'd be delighted to work with you on this. Contact me on and we can chat about what you need.

And thanks for your interest and enthusiasm!

Short answer: No.

Here's why:

First, it is super affordable. So we feel you will get your money's worth even from the first module!

Second, all the revenue from this program is going into supporting the non-profit organisation, the Global Human Rights Clinic. No one is profiting here, so if you're not enjoying the program or not getting out of it what you had hoped, you have still made a very valuable contribution to the future of human rights.

Third, the nature of this program is that it is not just about what is being delivered to you, in terms of content, but more about what you do with that -- how you choose to apply it in your work, how you learn from the material and change because of it, how you can use what you learn and the experiences of others that have enhanced your learning journey to further your actions as a human rights defender (at home, in your local community, in your country, on a bigger stage ... whatever is appropriate for you).

Given that the key to whether or not this will work for you is you, whether or not this program is guaranteed to work for you, bring you a sense of relief or awareness, assist your calling as a social justice advocate, or make you rich (ha! I wish!), is completely up to you.

I do guarantee that I will deliver the program as stated or better, and I will assist, encourage, help you throughout (to the extent of my ability to do so). And I will do these things with the same passion, dedication, and commitment to respect and dignity that led me to pursue a long-term career in human rights in the first place.

And finally, if you are unable to start or "keep up" with the live version on the timeframe it is being offered or in the way that you would like, for example due to illness or unexpected life events, the program is available online for you to access any time. When life returns to a semblance of normal, the program will still be there for you to enjoy and learn from.

I'm originally from Australia and New Zealand, but have lived in Europe in a non-native English speaking community for a long time. So that's why I probably don't sound like you! And where I'm from, we spell things differently to the USA or the UK. Maybe because we were so far away from everyone else we forgot how to spell things any other way!

(I also make a lot of unintentional spelling errors, and do appreciate it when these are pointed out, so if it's not just about using an "ou" when an "o" would suffice, or because I'm doing more realising than realizing, please feel free to drop me a line and tell me where I screwed up so I can fix it!)

Other questions not answered here? Contact Us.