Networking Mexico's Human Rights Advocates for Greater Impact

Red Nacional de Derechos Humanos (Red TDT)*
Mexico City, Mexico


Mexico is experiencing one of the most violent periods in its history, with more than 45,000 people killed since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on the drug cartels. Mexican citizens have witnessed the militarization of public security officials, the kidnappings of thousands of migrants, and the disappearance of thousands of people. Most of these abuses occur with total impunity. In recent years there has been an increase of aggressions against human rights defenders and a criminalization of social protest. The tenuous security situation has grave implications for defenders of human rights including harassment, arbitrary arrest, or death.

Against this backdrop, human rights defenders in the country work to reinforce local application of internationally recognized economic, social and political human rights and ensure equal protection of these rights for specific groups. Red Nacional de Derechos Humanos "Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos" (National Human Rights Network "All Rights for All") also known as Red TDT, is a leading national network of Mexican human rights organizations that trains, monitors, documents, and retains comprehensive information about human rights violations in Mexico. Red TDT member organizations have the most comprehensive access to information about human rights violations in Mexico because of their direct contact with victims. This connection enables them to provide information—which might otherwise be unknown or go unrecognized—about patterns of human rights violations and their relationship to practices and actions by the Mexican government.

Red TDT’s secretariat has a mission of coordinating all the activities of the network, and ensuring the implementation of shared policy and protocol agreements made by participating non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Executive Secretariat carries out a training process that strengthens case documentation to maximize the impact of the NGOs’ advocacy work. On behalf of its members, the secretariat conducts training, prepares reports, coordinates with regional and global human rights bodies, and develops communication strategies to illuminate local human rights violations at the national and international levels.

With 75 organizations operating in 22 states and the Federal district, the breadth of Red TDT’s membership also makes it a powerful advocate for human rights issues and provides a platform for reform. For example, Red TDT was a key interlocutor in the establishment of the Technical Cooperation Agreement between the Mexican government and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and in the development of the UN-led National Diagnostic on Human Rights in Mexico. It was also one of the actors who helped develop the proposal for the Constitutional Reform on Human Rights.

Following prolonged advocacy by human rights organizations, the Mexican government announced in 2011 the plan to establish a Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders, but so far it has yet to be implemented. This failure by the Mexican government to provide protection and security to human rights defenders has led many groups to try to develop their own ways to improve their security.

The MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions arrives at a critical time in the organization as Red TDT member organizations have received threats to their physical security, which are undermining the efficacy and functionality of the network. This award will help Red TDT improve its organizational capacity to face these threats more effectively.

* Full legal name is Asociación Todos los Derechos para Todos 

Human Rights & International Justice, MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, Human Rights, Mexico