Barbara Hendricks – a human rights defender of a special kind

November 2, 2012

Barbara Hendricks at MEA ceremony 2003 with late Sergio Vieira de Mello and Alirio Uribe Munoz

The trigger to write about this very special person is that she has just been celebrated as UNHCR’s Goodwill ambassador for 25 years.

You are really the princess of the humanitarian and human rights world,” High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said at a special UNHCR staff ceremony in Geneva. “The authority of your voice is a precious instrument for our fight,” he added. “Twenty-five years – it’s a long time and the cause of refugees has been a part of my life since my first mission,” said Hendricks, adding that it had been an honour to work for UNHCR. She praised the refugees who inspire her and the UNHCR staff who help them. “Thank you so much. It has been a fantastic journey and I look forward to continuing for as long as I can.

What many people do not know is that Barbara Hendricks has not only been a dedicated and outspoken advocate for refugees for the past 25 years, but also been a strong supporter of other causes including human rights, e.g. as a Patron of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders or in giving her support to creating the True Heroes Foundation, Films for Human Rights Defenders in 2007.

The American-born Swedish citizen was inspired by the struggle for civil rights in the USA as a child and never let off. The human rights world needs celebrities but even more it needs celebrities with real and long-term commitment. This is what makes Barbara Hendricks a Human Rights Defender in her own name! Thanks.

One Response to “Barbara Hendricks – a human rights defender of a special kind”

  1. Alex B Says:

    she sounds brilliant, not at all your typical diva

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