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Expert Voices

The Tactical Mapping Tool From New Tactics in Human Rights

Published October 4, 2018

It all started about a decade ago. Staff with CVT’s New Tactics in Human Rights, which develops and disseminates unique resources for human rights activists across the world, arrived at a crucial question: Would it be possible, and perhaps necessary in an increasingly digital age, to take their five-step methodology and turn it into something interactive?

Three years ago the idea was re-assessed and staff developed a plan to execute the idea. After receiving grant funding from Global Affairs Canada and partnering with Canadian NGO Equitas, the team is set to launch their new web app: the Tactical Mapping Tool (TMT)! This groundbreaking web application focuses on step three of the New Tactics method: Mapping the Terrain, and is intended to help human rights activists work more strategically and effectively on their human rights issues.

“It’s the thing that differentiates us most from other human rights focused trainings,” says Brent Jensen, online engagement coordinator for New Tactics. “Those trainings are typically presented in a way that explains what a participant’s rights are. Our method, however, is focused on capacity-building. That’s different from what others are doing, and our trainees find mapping the terrain particularly beneficial.”

By allowing users to virtually diagram the relationships that surround complex human rights issues, the TMT provides both a macro and micro-level view of an issue or problem and illustrates the most effective pathways toward affecting change. It takes users through a question-and-answer process that helps to identify their problem and develop a vision for the future. Users can then begin to identify key actors and develop a map of relationships that can be used to assess power dynamics and how action will impact those individuals and relationships.

The TMT is a big advancement in the way that New Tactics has implemented their trainings. Until now, training participants had utilized large pieces of paper, post-it notes and markers to develop their tactical maps. “This created limitations in collaboration with colleagues across distances and in their ability to use the map as a living, breathing tool moving forward” said Brent. The TMT streamlines this process, and records the history of the actions taken on an issue, allowing users to plan for the future. In preserving institutional knowledge, the tool also functions as a database. It’s both a constantly evolving document that gives a strategic overview of an issue, and a snapshot in time.

With the tool built in both English and Arabic, the TMT is intended to have an impact both domestically and abroad. Plans are already underway to pilot the TMT in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. As the application is in beta, early adopters will be able to provide feedback and impact future versions. New Tactics anticipates early users will likely be smaller grassroots organizations, although staff hopes that larger NGOs and humanitarian agencies adopt the tool as it evolves and grows.

“At a basic level,” concludes Brent, “The tool allows us to be innovative in the way we do our trainings. The concept of the tool is unique and powerful. We’re excited to learn as we go along.”

Check out the Tactical Mapping Tool and create your free user account by visiting www.tacticalmap.org

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