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The Decoding Injustice Tools Hub

Learn how to deploy Decoding Injustice to tackle how the design of our economies harms people’s rights.

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The deepest injustices we face today — gender inequality, racial discrimination, and environmental destruction, among others — are “coded” into the economic system in ways that obscure their causes and effects. This can make them seem impossible to dismantle. But things can be different. Decoding Injustice organizes methods for collecting, analyzing, and presenting data in a creative new way. This helps analyze not just what’s happening, but why. The goal: to build evidence that makes the case for redistributing resources and balancing power in our economies.

More coming soon!

We’ll be growing this space in the coming months, adding more educational materials and practical guidance on how Decoding Injustice can support evidence-based advocacy. Feedback from partners and allies informs how we develop these resources. Get in touch and tell us what you want to see next!

Common Questions

Decoding Injustice is a powerful way to use research to advance economic, environmental, and social justice. It sheds new light on how economic policies harm people’s human rights. It supports demands that those in power live up to their promises, and right the wrongs of historic oppression, by advancing a Rights-Based Economy. It does this by organizing innovative methods for collecting, analyzing, and presenting evidence around three steps. 

Decoding Injustice is based on the belief that if we want to understand — and take action to tackle — the way economic policies harm people’s rights, we need to bring together a wider range of expertise, both technical and lived. To do that, it uses approaches from the fields of systems thinking, participatory action research, and data analysis. In the process, it repurposes these approaches to make them more useful to civil society groups and communities seeking to engage with economic policy debates.

Decoding Injustice is an approach that can be adapted for use by a wide range of groups — from local activists and community groups to academics and policy analysts. Our introductory modules are designed to serve an equally diverse set of readers. 

Readers will likely have varying degrees of familiarity with the methods we cover in each module. So the notes in each module have a skill-building focus — introducing concepts that can strengthen economic literacy and responsible data practices, for example. We know that some notes will likely be more relevant for particular readers than others. For this reason, we encourage you to dip in and out of them and keep them on hand as references as you experiment with different methods in your work.

1. Interrogate:

Some of the deepest injustices we face today — poverty, inequality, environmental destruction — harm a vast range of human rights. But they don’t fit within a simple cause-and-effect analysis. They’re highly complex and interconnected due to how our economies are organized. Adopting a systems thinking approach, this step translates human rights norms into more measurable criteria that can help in identifying the various elements in our economies. It also introduces OPERA, an analytical framework for unpacking how these elements interconnect and interact and understanding how they create particular dynamics that sustain injustice. OPERA groups human rights norms into four dimensions: Outcomes, Policy Efforts, Resources, and Assessment. It sets out questions to ask for each, which can be answered using indicators and benchmarks.    

2. Illuminate:

This step draws together a range of methods that help answer the questions mapped out using OPERA in the first step. It focuses on various data sources, as a type of knowledge that can be highly effective in making the case for change. When it comes to analyzing how resources are distributed, “crunching the numbers” can be especially valuable in uncovering patterns and trends that might otherwise remain hidden. However, this step also takes a critical approach to data, acknowledging its potential to conceal as well as reveal, and suggests ways to analyze and contextualize data. 

3. Inspire:

This step builds collective power for change, by leveraging evidence creatively in both formal and informal accountability processes. It recognizes that change in complex systems is messy, unpredictable, and beyond the control of any single organization or even groups of organizations. Change can occur by tiny increments, or by large leaps forward. For this reason, we need to identify entry points in the accountability ecosystem. These can be legal, administrative, political, or social; they can be formal or informal; and they can operate at local, national, regional, and international levels.

Human rights research has traditionally been quite legalistic, aiming to build evidence that can establish whether or not a human rights violation has occurred. To do so, it draws on a fairly fixed repertoire of fact-finding methods, such as interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and reviewing relevant documents. In this way, it zooms in on smaller and smaller parts of a complex issue to identify their direct cause and effect — and to attribute responsibility for them.

But examining only one part of a system leads to fragmentation and silos. The whole of a system is different from the sum of its parts, because of the interactions between those parts. It also tends to oversimplify the diagnosis of a problem. This, in turn, limits the prescriptions that can be made. 

For this reason, Decoding Injustice starts from specific problems facing particular groups — but then zooms out beyond the immediate problem to look carefully at its underlying causes. It aims to understand not just what’s happening, but why. In particular, it focuses on scrutinizing how governments raise and spend resources and uncovering the configurations of power within our dominant economic system that shape them. To do this, it draws on a broad repertoire of methods from multiple disciplines.

In Practice

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