Capacity enhancement is, in my opinion, a combination of research, developing strategies and training. I have found it very inspiring to work together with a human rights organisation in building their practical skills, underlying knowledge and learning capacity.
Change comes from within. Capacity strengthening or enhancement of the effectiveness of human rights groups inside the country where they work is, therefore, of utmost importance. They are the actors for change.
With projects related to capacity enhancement, it has repeatedly struck me how universal the problems of organisations are. We recognize each other's problems and can discuss possible solutions. I remember the recognition of a group of women from a women's organization in Jombang, East Java, when I told them about similar issues in strategic planning that I had encountered in Kosova.
In Kosova I managed a two year project (with funds from Hivos) for capacity strengthening of the Council for Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms. The aim was to integrate digital documentation in their work. Several activists in small villages got the opportunity to use the computer, not only for their necessary communication, but also for registering human rights violations in digital software that facilitated analysis and oversight. I will never forget the kinds of computers I saw, the broad calloused fingers of the local activist who typed in the information, so that the totals appeared on the screen in Prishtina.
Even more intensive were the contacts with the women in Jombang, who, notwithstanding their orthodoxy and veiled appearance, fought against domestic violence and other violence against women. They were appalled when the then right wing local government in Jombang made it impossible for women to be outside their homes after nine o'clock at night. "If the men were forbidden to go out in the streets, there wouldn't be any problem anymore!", they said. Orthodox but progressive, they taught the female pupils of the pesantren (Islamic boarding school), what their rights were. We never openly discussed to what extent the girls experienced violations of their rights or violence within the school. That was too intimate for them. But these lessons were very necessary, they said.
In many of my training activities I have used a certain amount of general information on human rights as a basis. I find it useful not to go into too much detail for participants in order for them to grab the main thinking, and to be able to apply it in their daily work. You can read a recent background paper on human rights in general here.