Statement of Principles: How to Create Survivor-Centered Solutions

The Global Survivor Network is an international group of survivor leaders who desire and pursue safe communities through justice systems that protect the most vulnerable. Through the GSN, survivors are empowered and equipped; we share our experiences with each other; and we offer our expertise to inform humanitarian programming and global policies that will protect people from violence and promote sustainable peace and development.

The Leadership Council is the leadership body of the GSN. Our purpose is to build and scale up the network and its activities by advising and leading local survivor groups, providing consultation to IJM, and representing the GSN at local and international forums. We joined together in 2019, as pictured above, and we have examined and learned from many survivors and groups of survivors that have been working for years to promote the voices and needs of survivors. Survivors are experts on our own experiences, and our voices will inspire real change.

We, the founding members of the Leadership Council, put forward these six principles to support survivors as they advocate for their own needs, and to guide decision-makers at all levels as they create survivor-centered solutions:

  1. Listen to lived experiences: When we break the silence by sharing our stories, we are taking a risk and making a choice to also break through cultural stigmas, painful stereotypes and re-traumatization. We speak so others may have courage and change may come. We call upon all stakeholders – governments, corporations, religious institutions, cultural institutions, local and international organizations – to listen to us, to collectively act with us.
  2. Embrace unity in diversity: Voices are stronger together. Survivors share a desire to protect others and to be viewed as equals. But we each have our unique perspectives and will learn from each other. We are a global, diverse group of leaders, and some among us will choose to speak out publicly while others will advocate from behind. We invite all survivors to unite together for change.
  3. Promote survivor voices in the community: Silent issues are hard to address. But once issues are spoken, they become a community problem that requires real commitment to real solutions. Our communities must be safe places for victims to recover and for survivors to become advocates. Local officials and leaders on the ground must promote resilience and include us in community-building efforts.
  4. Weave survivor voices into global interventions: Survivors provide firsthand evidence of the problems; there can be no excuse that these problems exist when we share our witness. We have more to offer than our stories expressing pain; survivors have expertise. We ask stakeholders to invite our contributions in the design, methodologies, implementation and assessment of humanitarian programs.
  5. Demand justice: We demand that perpetrators of violent crimes are held accountable for their actions. Adequate administration of justice will reduce impunity and prevent the continuous violation of people’s rights. Our institutions have a moral and statutory obligation to protect everyone, particularly people living in the most vulnerable conditions.
  6. Pay attention to those on the edges in the global pandemic: Many are suffering, and all are experiencing loss. We ask leaders at all levels to pay attention to the people on the edges of society: to the women suffering violence in their own homes, to the migrant workers and day laborers being targeted by traffickers, to the children growing up in poverty and pandemic. As we respond to COVID-19, programs and plans must adapt based on these complex ground realities and must include measures to protect people from opportunistic violence.
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