Posts Tagged ‘Balkan’


March 13, 2014

Another interesting side event taking place in the margin of the UN Human Rights Council is the one organized by the Human Rights House Foundation on Monday 17 March 2014 from 10h00-11h30 in room XXI in the Palais des Nations.


women human rights defenders will share their experience and present the new Human Rights House Network info graphics on the protection of human rights defenders:

  • Lara Aharonian, Women’s Resource Center Armenia Human Rights House Yerevan,
  • Anna Dobrovolskaya, Youth Human Rights Movement, Human Rights House Voronezh, Russia
  • Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development, Human Rights House Azerbaijan, Baku
  • Sanja Sarnavka, Be active. Be emancipated (BaBe), Human Rights House Zagreb, Croatia
  • Maria Dahle, Human Rights House Foundation. Oslo, Norway

Human Rights House Network (HRHN) was established 20 years ago and now unites 90 human rights NGOs in 18 independent Human Rights Houses in 13 countries. HRHN aims to protect, empower and support HRDs locally.

The info graphics themselves, which try to cover all the key topics in the creation of an enabling environment for human rights defenders as laid down in the latest report of the Special Rapporteur, will be publicly available as from 17 March on or contact <anna.innocenti[at]>

Aida Corovic, human rights defender, threatened by extremist groups in Serbia

December 5, 2013

Aida Corovic, human rights defender from Sandzak, SerbiaCivil Rights Defenders strongly condemns the death threats directed towards Aida Corovic, a leading human rights defender in Sandzak, Serbia, and requests a quick and firm response from the authorities. “We have seen too much tolerance towards radical and extremist groups who use violence and threats”, says Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans of the Stockholm-based NGO. Aida Corovic is head of the organisation Urban–In from Novi Pazar. Read the rest of this entry »

Serbian Nataša Kandić receives first Civil Rights Defender of the Year awar

April 7, 2013

Natasa Kandic, Photo: Markus Junghard

(Natasa Kandic, Photo: Markus Junghard)

Nataša Kandić, founder of Humanitarian Law Center in Serbia and 1999 MEA Laureate, has been awarded the 2013 “Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award” for her “persistent and fearless work on documenting war crimes and the most serious human rights abuses in the former Yugoslavia, and for supporting war crimes trials by providing courts with evidence and witnesses.” Nataša’s human rights work has put her life at risk but her concern has always been with the war crime victims and not her own persona. “Those who choose to work with human rights connected to war cannot be afraid. I have never thought about risks. I am always only thinking about uncovering the truth about the crimes that have been committed and seeking the conviction of those responsible. There is no room for fear”, she stated.  Read the rest of this entry »

Example of transparency in communication between Government and NGO in Sweden

January 26, 2013

In December 2012, the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders wrote a letter to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, and urged him to demand stronger protection for human rights defenders in Kosovo. Civil Rights Defender’s letter to Carl Bildt was sent after the attacks against the organisations ‘Kosovo 2.0’ and ‘Libertas’ in late 2012. Read more about the background:

English: Carl Bildt, foreign minister in Swede...

Carl Bildt (Wikipedia)

What is interesting is the frank exchange between the NGO and the Ministry and the fact that the exchange of letter can be made public. I think that in quite a few countries civil society can only dream of this kind of transparency.

For this reason I reproduce the response of 21 January 2013 by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in full:

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your letter about the human rights situation in Kosovo and the information about the attacks in Pristina against human rights defenders, addressed to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. I’ve been asked to answer you. I would first like to apologize for the late reply.

The events you describe is obviously regrettable and unacceptable, and unfortunately part of a pattern in the Western Balkans where gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights are not guaranteed and they are subjected to harassments. From a Swedish perspective, strengthening human rights in Kosovo is a priority both on a political level and within the framework of the Swedish development cooperation, where we work closely with the civil society, including Civil Rights Defenders. Improvement of the human rights situation is also crucial for Kosovo’s EU integration.

We are discussing these important issues on a political level with politicians in Kosovo. When Prime Minister Hachim Thaci visited Sweden in October, EU integration and the necessary reforms in Kosovo, including human rights, were major themes. In development cooperation, Sweden is working with great commitment with LGBT issues in several projects in the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. As you probably know the Swedish Institute in 2012 showed the exhibition “Article One” to empower the LGBT movement in Kosovo and make them more visible in the community.

One reason why Sweden wants to see Kosovo as well as the other Western Balkan countries as members of the EU, is the great development of these countries’ societies that comes with the EU integration. Democracy in Kosovo has made considerable progress in recent years, but significant challenges remain, not least in the field of human rights. A clear EU perspective with strict requirements and evaluations with regard to respect for human rights is the best way to drive development in Kosovo. Civil society engagement, both within countries and internationally, is of utmost importance for Kosovo to become a more open and democratic society.


Emilie af Jochnick