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Legitimizing an Effort to Promote Human Rights Abroad

Challenge: Members of a South Asian diaspora called on the Podesta Group to help them formally organize and raise their visibility on Capitol Hill and in policy circles.

Strategy: Position the group as a legitimate, fact-based entity that provides thoughtful and substantive information on extremely challenging issues, including human rights violations in their home country. Encourage congressional and administration support for the group’s human rights initiatives through strategic Hill and administration outreach and a targeted education campaign that included earned press, the production of viable policy papers, a series of lobby days and special events.

Result: The Podesta Group has successfully built a reputable brand for the organization inside the Beltway that has resulted in positive movement in the administration's policy and increased congressional support. This was done through the prominent placement of op-eds in national publications like The Huffington Post and The Christian Science Monitor, as well as the drafting and distribution of two policy papers and dozens of press releases. After the Podesta Group arranged for five members of Congress to deliver floor speeches on an important anniversary for the diaspora, and the passage of a congressional resolution addressing human rights in the group’s home country. This effort was accompanied by several bipartisan letters sent to Secretary of State Clinton signed by dozens of members of both chambers of Congress that garnered great attention in the national and international press. The Podesta Group was also successful in securing FY11 appropriations language that restricts funding to the group’s home government and military because of its ongoing human rights violations. And finally, the Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent urging the White House to develop a comprehensive policy on the issue and expressing congressional support for facilitating lasting peace in the nation.