Posts Tagged ‘digest of human rights awards’

New national award to honor slain Mexican journalists

March 24, 2018

Miroslava Breach, a correspondent for Mexican daily La Jornada in the state of Chihuahua, on the US border, was a celebrated investigative journalist known for hard-hitting reports on links between politicians and organized crime (AFP Photo/HERIKA MARTINEZ)
Journalists take part in a protest outside the State Government building in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to mark one year since the murder of journalist Miroslava Breach (AFP Photo/HERIKA MARTINEZ)

The UN and AFP launched an award Thursday 22 March 2018 to honor journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, in tribute to two celebrated reporters murdered last year. The Breach-Valdez Prize will honor journalists who follow in the footsteps of their slain colleagues Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez, two of the more than 100 reporters murdered since 2000 in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press. (see also:

Its aim is “to recognize the careers of Mexican journalists who have distinguished themselves in defending human rights,” said Giancarlo Summa, director of the United Nations Information Center in Mexico.

Valdez, an award-winning journalist who covered Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, was gunned down last May in broad daylight outside the offices of Riodoce, the newspaper he co-founded in Culiacan, the capital of his native Sinaloa state. He was also a long-time AFP collaborator.

Miroslava Breach, a correspondent for Mexican daily La Jornada in the state of Chihuahua, on the US border, was a celebrated investigative journalist known for hard-hitting reports on links between politicians and organized crime. She was shot dead in broad daylight last March as she drove her son to school.

The annual prize is also co-sponsored by UNESCO, the Ibero-American University and the French embassy in Mexico. The first edition will be awarded on May 3 in Mexico City. The winner will receive a grant and a trip to France to take part in a series of events on free speech.

(Breach and Valdez were among at least 11 journalists murdered in Mexico last year, making it the deadliest country in the world for the press after Syria, according to watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. The latest murder came just Wednesday, when journalist Leobardo Vazquez was gunned down outside his house in Veracruz state — the second killed in 2018.)

“There is no indication these crimes are going to stop. Let’s hope this prize will help all the country’s brave journalists keep up the fight,” Valdez’s widow, Griselda Triana, said at the launch of the award.

This is a national award. There are many awards for journalists and for freedom of expression at the international level, see:

Environmental defenders face growing danger – what funders are doing

March 21, 2018

Will the world’s environmental defenders survive another year of violence? In 2017, a staggering 197 people—around four a week—were killed worldwide while defending the environment from “mines, plantations, poachers, and infrastructure projects,” according to the watchdog group, Global Witness. Even international recognition is no guarantee of safety. Two past winners of the Goldman Prize, often called the Nobel of environmentalism, were murdered in a span of months not long ago. [for more on the Goldman prize see:]

Some funders are taking steps to stop the carnage. But can their giving keep up with the death toll, which has risen fourfold since 2012? To begin with, funders supporting the front line of environmental leaders are facing a hostile climate. Beatings and bullets aimed at their grantees are only one aspect of this.

The political environment has gotten a lot more toxic for a number of reasons,” said Alejandro Queral, who’s been following these issues for years and has firsthand knowledge of many environmental defenders’ cases…….”influence of the media, which is used to be a powerful tool for shining a light on the issue and shaming governments for their impunity, has been weakened on a global level.” More broadly, Queral said, “it has become increasingly difficult to hold abusive governments and individuals accountable for their actions.”

Similar concerns are reported by those in the funding world. “Not only have recent years seen a dramatic increase in the number of incidents involving environmental human rights defenders, but efforts to silence defenders are increasing,” said Alex Grossman, deputy director of communications at the Global Greengrants Fund.

Greengrants provides funding to strengthen grassroots environmental advocates around the world. Helping grantees deal with security threats is a fast growing part of its work, with grants going “toward bolstering physical security, securing legal assistance, developing safety protocols, purchasing equipment and supplies, relocation, and any other pressing need that may arise,” says Grossman. In the past year, Global Greengrants has given 21 grants totaling over $110,000 toward safety and security issues.

In recent years, though, it’s become harder to channel financial support to groups that need it around the world. 

“Governments are using the fear of terrorism and influence from abroad to put forward legislation that limits funding available and creates burdensome administrative procedures. Over 100 such laws have been enacted in the last five years,” Grossman told Inside Philanthropy. “These restrictions increase the difficulty for human rights defenders to continue their work. As the space for civil society continues to close, more funding is needed to help defenders on the front lines.”

The Global Greengrants Fund gets its funding mainly from individual donors. But it’s also pulled in support from some corporations like Aveda, which makes natural beauty products, and from several foundations, including the Arcus Foundation, which works to protect great apes. Arcus has funded a number of front-line efforts in Africa and Asia to combat poaching, which can be dangerous work. 

……..Protecting environmental defenders is often entwined with support for human rights activists writ large. The Open Society Foundations is a key player in this space, with offices in 37 countries, including areas with ongoing environmental conflicts. Another major outfit that has been entrenched in this space for a while now is the U.K.-based Sigrid Rausing Trust (SRT). Its Human Rights Defenders program supports organizations around the world that are providing security and increased media training to rights activists who are at risk of harassment, detention, torture and death.

Alex Grossman said that the Global Greengrants Fund often works to put environmental defenders in touch with human rights outfits like Urgent Action Fund and Frontline Defenders, which offer rapid response grantmaking and protection services.

But more work is needed to connect environmental and human rights efforts, and funders can play a role, here. 

“I believe the most important thing that grantmakers can do is be a catalyst for deep collaboration,” Queral said. “The Goldman Environmental Foundation funded the Sierra Club and Amnesty International to speak with one voice on behalf of activists. The knowledge, credibility and ability to move volunteers to action of these organizations raised the profile of many cases around the world.”

Queral said that such campaigns had, in some cases, led to successes, like the release from prison of environmental leader Aleksandr Nikitin, and the similar liberation of Rodolfo Montiel, who fought against widespread illegal deforestation in Mexico.

Against the backdrop of 2017’s death toll, it’s hard to imagine 2018 will be a year of safety for environmental defenders. But it could be a year in which their security becomes better supported.

see also:

Call for nominations for the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize

March 16, 2018

The 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize(s) will be given out at the United Nations HQ in New York on Human Right Day, 10 December 2018. The Call for Nominations is now open. This year’s award will coincide with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The honorary prize is given out every five years, usually shared by 6 laureates. For more information see

An remarkable feature of this ‘inter-governmental’ award is that nominations can be received from: “member States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in consultative status and from other appropriate sources.” Nominations may be made by submitting the online nomination form with basic identifying information about the nominee and the reasons for making the nomination.

Hard copies can, alternatively, be sent by post to: Human Rights Prize, OHCHR New York Office, Room S-1306, United Nations, New York, NY 10017. A printable form for submitting a nomination by post is available for download here.

The deadline for submission of nominations is 6 April 2018.


See also:

Norwegian Holberg Prize to Cass Sunstein, one of the world’s leading democracy scholars

March 15, 2018

The Holberg Prize is awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology, either in one of these fields or through interdisciplinary work. The Holberg Prize was established by the Norwegian Parliament 1 July 2003, and was awarded for the first time in 2004.The objective of the prize is to increase awareness of the value of academic scholarship in the arts, humanities, social sciences, law and theology. The Prize has a money value of approx. EUR 617,000. The Prize is named after the Danish-Norwegian writer Ludvig Holberg, who excelled in all of the sciences covered by the award.

Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, has been awarded the Holberg Prize, one of the largest international awards given to an outstanding researcher.

Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. Rose Lincoln/Harvard file photo

Harvard legal scholar Cass Sunstein has been named this year’s winner of the Holberg Prize. As it is not specifically a human rights award, it is not included in the Digest of THF [], but this winner’s achievements in the human rights area are interesting enough to earn a mention in this blog:

Sunstein‘s scholarship spans behavioral economics and public policy, constitutional law and democratic theory, legal theory and jurisprudence, administrative law, and the regulation of risk. In particular, Sunstein’s academic work has reshaped understanding of the relationship between the modern regulatory state and constitutional law. He is widely regarded as the leading scholar of administrative law in the United States, and is by far the most cited legal scholar in the country.

For four decades, Sunstein has combined his scholarly contributions with a range of public activities and participation in open debate. He has influenced thinking on some of the most pressing issues of the time, from climate change and free speech to health issues.

Describing the key purpose of his work, Sunstein said, “I have long been concerned with how to promote enduring constitutional ideals — freedom, dignity, equality, self-government, the rule of law — under contemporary circumstances, which include large bureaucracies that sometimes promote, and sometimes threaten, those ideals.  The main goal has been to deepen the foundations of democratic theory for the modern era, and to understand in practical terms how democracies might succeed in helping to make people’s lives better — and longer.”

Sunstein has published 48 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. The books “After the Rights Revolution” (1990) and “The Partial Constitution” (1993) are considered his major works on American constitutional law, and explore how related ideals can be reworked and defended in the face of the challenges posed by the rise of the administrative state. “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide” (2018) emphasizes the importance of self-government and of human dignity, linking those to republican ideals and the power of impeachment.


Sunstein won the Goldsmith Book Prize for “Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech” (1993), in which he argued the need to reformulate U.S. First Amendment law. The book says that it is necessary to move away from the conception of free speech as a marketplace, in order to “reinvigorate processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention to public issues and greater diversity of views.”

His work on self-government, free speech, and modern technologies, culminating in “#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media” (2017), explores the problem of echo chambers and social polarization. It argues for the importance of common spaces and unchosen, serendipitous encounters with problems and ideas.

Sunstein earned his J.D. magna cum laude in 1978 from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. From 1980‒1981 he was an attorney-adviser at the U.S. Justice Department, before becoming an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School (1981–1983), where he also became an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science (1983–1985). Sunstein became full professor in both political science and law in 1985, and in 1988 he was named the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence in the Law School and Department of Political Science.

MEA reopens call for nominations due to change in cycle

March 14, 2018

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

The Martin Ennals Award (MEA) will change its annual award cycle starting with the next Laureate announcement and ceremony. In recent years, the three finalists have been announced in April and the ceremony announcing the Laureate has been held in October. The annual cycle will shift forward by four months. The next Laureate will be announced at the ceremony in February 2019. The three finalists will be announced in October/November 2018.

Thus, the MEA will be reopening nominations with a new deadline of 26 March 2018. Nominations already submitted for October 2018 will be considered for February 2019 and do not have to be resubmitted.

The new schedule will allow for better advocacy opportunities between the finalist and laureate announcements. It will also come just before the most important session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is held in March.

This change occurs in year that the MEA is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Fo more on this and other awards see:

“Girls not Brides” winner Geuzenpenning 2018

March 13, 2018

[More than 700 million women alive today were married before the age of 18. Each year, 15 million girls are married and their youth comes to an abrupt end. This is unacceptable, according to Girls Not Brides; an organisation which has been working to end child marriage since 2011. Girls Not Brides is a worldwide partnership. Approximately a thousand organisations in over 95 countries work together with one common goal: to stop child marriage within a generation. Girls Not Brides member organisations work across sectors including health, education, human rights and humanitarian response.]

Girls Not Brides started in 2011 and was co-founded by Princess Mabel van Oranje and The Elders.  

There is no simple solution to ending child marriage. Girls Not Brides has therefore developed the Theory of Change. Four interlinked strategies play a key role: make girls resilient and empower them, mobilise families and communities; provide support and services to unmarried and married girls; and create and implement good laws and policies.

Since its inception, the Girls Not Brides global partnership and its members have tirelessly worked to ensure that child marriage is on the global agenda and that it remains there. Many national, regional and local governments are now much more aware of the damaging impact that child marriage has, and are providing support to girls to give them a different future. Furthermore, many countries have taken steps to tighten their laws against child marriage; some of them have also started campaigns against this practice. The goal is now to stop child marriage by 2030, as included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Until every girl has the right to choose for herself when, whether and with whom they will marry, the work to stop child marriage will never be over.


What a courageous woman! Vietnamese human rights defender pledges to fight on at home

March 1, 2018

Dissident Vietnamese blogger Pham Doan Trang is shown in an image provided by the website danlambao.
 Vietnamese blogger Pham Doan Trang is shown in an image provided by the website

A Vietnamese human rights defender and blogger – now under house arrest – says she will not travel outside the country to receive a human rights award in March, vowing instead to remain in Vietnam to work for change in the one-party communist state. Pham Doang Trang, author of a recently published book on political engagement that has angered Vietnamese authorities, wrote on Wednesday on her Facebook page that she will not attempt to go abroad to receive her prize, according to Radio Free Asia on 28 February 2018.

I haven’t gone abroad and don’t plan to, not even for a few days to receive the Homo Homini Prize in the Czech Republic on March 5,” Trang said. “I will never leave Vietnam until Vietnam has changed.” “When one is like a fish that has been born in a dirty and polluted pond, one can either find one’s way to a nicer and cleaner pond nearby or to the vast ocean, or one can try to change one’s own pond to make it beautiful, breathable, and worth living in,” Trang said. “I choose this second option”.

[Trang received the 2017 Homo Homini Award from People in Need, an international human rights organization based in the Czech Republic. See :]

See also:

Anson Chan, Hong Kong human rights defender, is winner of 2018 O’Connor Justice Prize

February 20, 2018

Anson Chan, a longtime Hong Kong dignitary and fierce advocate of human rights and the rule of law, was awarded the O’Connor Justice Prize in Arizona. Hope more in this and other international human rights awards, see:

I am deeply honored to be awarded the 2018 O’Connor Justice Prize and to join the company of three most distinguished predecessors,” said Chan, the fourth recipient of the award. “The values embodied within the spirit of this prize, namely advancement of the rule of law, justice and human rights, are particularly close to my heart, and it is a privilege to be associated with an award that celebrates Justice O’Connor’s extraordinary legacy.”

Known as “Hong Kong’s conscience” for her decades of devotion to social justice and democracy, Chan recounted how she and O’Connor had blazed similar trails that broke through gender barriers. While O’Connor was the first woman to serve as a state Senate majority leader and first to join the U.S. Supreme Court, Chan was the first woman to be appointed head of a Hong Kong government department, first female policy secretary and the first woman — as well as the first ethnic Chinese citizen — to be appointed head of the civil service.

Chan expressed concerns about Hong Kong’s independence, describing increasing oversight by the Chinese government. She pointed to the changes that have taken place in the two decades since the transfer of sovereignty from British rule in 1997, a transition that Chan helped oversee in her role as chief secretary for administration.


O'Connor Justice Prize advisory board

The O’Connor Justice Prize advisory board with the 2018 O’Connor Justice Prize recipient, the Honorable Anson Chan (center).

Chan’s words drew a response the next day from the Hong Kong government. In a release, the government said, “Statements made arbitrarily to undermine the rule of law and our well-recognized reputation in this regard is not conducive to Hong Kong’s progress.‘hong-kong’s-conscience’-anson-chan-accepts-o’connor-justice-prize-warns-china’s

Mo Ibrahim Prize 2017 to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

February 12, 2018

After twice skipping a winner, the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership has been awarded to Liberia’s former president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Sirleaf, the continent’s first elected female president, left office in late January, after overseeing the first democratic transfer of power in Liberia since 1944. The 79-year-old Nobel laureate came to power in 2006, just two years after the end of a 14-year civil war that saw more than 250,000 people killed and another million displaced. During her two terms in office, Sirleaf tackled the spread of Ebola in the West African nation, developed the economy and championed the cause of women. Opponents said she did not do enough to tackle corruption while in office.

In their citation, the prize committee commended her “exceptional and transformative leadership” in leading the recovery efforts, strengthening democratic institutions and improving human rights.

The prize is special in that it gives large amounts of money for life to former African leaders. See:

Africa’s most prestigious leadership award goes to the continent’s first elected female president

NB I apologize for an erroneous post of 21 November 2017 attributing the Ibrahim Prize (2017) to former Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires. He received it in 2011!

Call for Nominations 2018 Right Livelihood Award

February 6, 2018

Do you know any brave person or organisation who works in a visionary and exemplary manner to solve global problems? Take the chance to propose a candidate for the 2018 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize” The Right Livelihood Award is not an award for the world’s political, scientific or economic élite, but an award for the people and their work and struggles for a better future. [] Everyone is welcome to propose candidates for the Right Livelihood Award and four recipients are chosen each year by an international jury after extensive research work. The deadline is 1 March 2018.

See also:…

For the 170 previous Laureates from 69 countries click here.


Read more about the nomination process here. If you want to propose a candidate (preferably in English), please follow these guidelines.