A Brazilian organisation acting nationally with global relevance
Conectas was founded in 2001 as a collective effort of professionals, academics and activists. Based in Brazil, we operate across the Global South landscape to monitor and mobilise international human rights agendas.
As the name suggests in Portuguese, we create connections and bring people and organisations together with the goal of realising and expanding human rights.
The main event of the organisation, the International Human Rights Colloquium preceded the foundation of Conectas. One of the largest international human rights summits in the world, this colloquium aimed to exchange experiences and build alliances between advocates, academics and organisations around the world, especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Its first event was held in 2001 with a collaboration between PUC-SP, USP and Columbia University. Conectas eventually emerged to an organisational capacity since 2004. Since the Colloquium was hosted, more than 1,500 people have participated in that event.
Conectas adopted litigation strategy in the courts as an approach to act against violations committed by the State. At first, this effort focused on adolescents detained in correctional facilities. Between 2003 and 2008, the organisation carried out regular visits and periodic inspections to over 70% of Fundação Casa units (formerly Febem) to obtain information and gather data about violations occurred on the premises and lodged almost one hundred lawsuits on behalf of the hospitalised adolescent victims of violence. In several cases, Conectas succeeded to cause damage to the political cost of the government, contribute to reforms in the socio-educational system, and improve mechanisms for control and transparency in juvenile prisons.
Understanding the importance of using international human rights mechanisms to denounce and combat violations, in 2005, Conectas established its Foreign Policy programme, with the proposal to promote using the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS). This experience has now become one of the main strategies of Conectas to taking decisions in Brazil and in the world. Conectas also began monitoring Brazil's positions in the international arena. Up until then, foreign policy decisions were, as per government statutes, usually taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without considering any or little accountability to the civil society.
In the same year that the Human Rights Council was born, Conectas became an advisory body of the UN. One of the few Brazilian organisations that uses the United Nations as a tribune for denunciation of violations committed by the Brazilian State, divulging them in the public arena – such as other countries and compelling the State to be accountable to the international community.
With the experience gained, the organisation began to dedicate itself in combating violations and assuring rights of people imprisoned in the adult prison facilities. At that time, the country was already growing rapidly in the ranking of nations with the largest prison populations. In addition to not providing proper access to justice, as provisioned by law, the Brazilian prison system became a ticking time bomb: poor conditions in prisons, lack of medical care and proper nutrition, and systematic torture harboured conditions for frequent and violent riots;
Conectas restructured to better utilise strategies developed over time. The new strategic plan created and implemented in 2016 defined the organisation's areas of activity for the years to come: institutional violence, strengthening of democratic space, and violations of human and environmental rights by companies.
In July, Conectas was elected to be a representative of civil society on the National Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Torture (CNPCT) for a mandate from 2016 to 2018.
As part of the restructuring process undergone a year earlier, Conectas established the mobilisation and public engagement to strengthen collective action for human rights and democratic values. In this context, it is essential to communicate more openly and closer to people. This notion of understanding is the framework for changes in the organisation's brand identity.