Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Save the dates for the RAFTO Prize 2021

June 15, 2021

The Rafto Prize Events 2021

These are the dates for the 2021 Rafto Prize Events. They are live-streamed. You can watch them on RAFTO’s website and on Facebook.

The Rafto Prize Announcement (online )

Thursday 23 September at 10:00 AM (CEST)

Watch the press conference where the Head of the Rafto Prize Commitee announces the recipient of the Rafto Prize 2021! The live-stream starts at 09:30, and will include interviews and commentaries by experts and Rafto staff.

The Rafto Conference (online)
Saturday 13 November at 11:00-14:00

Join our online conference with keynote speech by Rafto Laureate 2021. The conference will shed light on and discuss human rights challenges related to this year’s Rafto Prize. Free of charge and open for everyone to attend.
Speakers and program TBA

The Award Ceremony (online)
Sunday 14 November at 18:00-19:15

Live broadcasted from Den Nationale Scene, Bergen, we are celebrating this year’s Rafto Laureate with an award ceremony and a concert.
Free of charge. Artists and perfomances TBA

Torchlight procession, Den Nationale Scene in Bergen.
Sunday 14 November at 19:30

After the Award Ceremony there will be a torchlight procession, that will start outside of Den Nationale Scene, Bergen.
Physical attendance only.

For more on this and other human rights awards for HRDs, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/A5043D5E-68F5-43DF-B84D-C9EF21976B18


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Yury Dmitriev wins 2021 Sakharov Freedom Award

May 21, 2021

Thomas Nilsen in the Barents Observer of 21 May reports that The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has given its 2021 award, the Sakharov Freedom prize, to Russian dissident Yury Dmitriev. for more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/DC70DA62-BCB5-497A-A145-79D1F865FC11

Dmitriev is well known for his research and campaigns to create a memorial to the victims of Soviet terror in the Republic of Karelia, a northwestern province near Russia’s border to Finland. see also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/303c010f-033a-45b1-9d25-ed42d99b1da9

“Yuri Dmitriev has returned the human value back to the Russian state. He confronts the past and gives a new vision for the future, which today’s regime does not have,” says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Geir Hønneland, to the Barents Observer.

Explaining the reason behind the award, Hønneland says it is not only about Dmitriev as a historian. “His work has already inspired thousands of young and old people, who want to find their dearest in the darkest graves. It is about hope and common identity.

Millions were killed during Soviet terror, but the victims of these atrocities and their living relatives have never been given real justice. This was what Yury Dmitriev was working on. In the forests of Karelia, tens of thousands of people were shot and killed without trial or conviction and buried in mass graves.

Dmitriev is currently serving a 13 years prison sentence and is considered a political prisoner by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and other leading human rights organizations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/01/dunja-mijatovic-calls-on-russia-to-end-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-defenders/

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/democracy-and-media/2021/05/jailed-russian-historian-receives-sakharov-freedom-award

Annual Report 2020 RAFTO foundation

April 14, 2021

Annual Report 2020 Human rights work in a challenging year

The Rafto Foundation’s Executive Director Jostein Hole Kobbeltved summarizes last year’s efforts to promote human rights and support human rights defenders.

2020 did not turn out as planned, for anyone. The global Covid-19 crisis is not just a health crisis, but also a human rights crisis. Emergency laws have been used to suppress human rights defenders. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 83 countries have introduced laws restricting freedom of expression. This often occurs where civil society is already under pressure. At the same time, human rights defenders have started to use new and creative tools to be able to continue their work.

The 2020 Rafto Prize, which was awarded to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/cb80c53f-6f2a-473d-a3a1-03993cc6a5c6] spotlighted the reign of terror and continuing absence of a constitutional state in Egypt ten years after the Arab Spring. It shone a light on the brave human rights defenders of the ECRF who, at particular personal risk, document human rights abuses and support those being persecuted by the increasingly authoritarian Egyptian authorities. Because of strict travel and meeting restrictions, both the announcement and presentation of the Rafto Prize were made digitally. What started off as a challenge became an opportunity to reach a wider international audience than ever before.

The 2020 Rafto Prize awarded to Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
The 2020 Rafto Prize awarded to Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)

Support for Rafto Laureates and human rights defenders

The Rafto Foundation continued its targeted efforts to support our Rafto Laureates, in Poland where the pressure on the constitutional state is only growing [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/dac46850-c254-11e8-8caa-a5bb244824e6]and in Kashmir where the persecution of human rights defenders is simply alarming [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/81468931-79AA-24FF-58F7-10351638AFE3]. We have also helped the network of Rafto Laureates and our network of women human rights defenders to continue their work by strengthening their digital infrastructure and security. We have supported Rafto Laureates under pressure and highlighted the human rights situation in a number of our Rafto Prize countries, including Belarus, Iraq, Uganda, China and India.

#1000RobesMarch in Warsaw on 11 January 2020 where Rafto organised a Norwegian delegation that participated in the demonstrations.
#1000RobesMarch in Warsaw on 11 January 2020 where Rafto organised a Norwegian delegation that participated in the demonstrations.

Increasing human rights competence among businesses

Together with businesses, we have continued to develop our sector-specific work in the finance, seafood, construction and maritime industries. We have leveraged the synergies between our local presence in the Human Rights City Bergen and our international partnerships. 2020 saw the launch of FUTURE-PROOF, a regional collaboration platform for business and human rights, for which engagement among businesses in the Bergen region has continued to rise. We scaled up our cooperation with the CEMS network and our first fully digital Masters in Business and Human Rights attracted a record number of participants. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/01/applications-open-for-raftos-business-and-human-rights-course-in-norway/]

The KAN coalition, which is campaigning to establish Norwegian human rights due diligence legislation for business and which the Rafto Foundation helped found, was officially launched in autumn 2020 with a number of Norwegian businesses as members. The development aid programme to combat modern slavery, to which the Rafto Foundation has contributed, was launched and represents a welcome boost to Norwegian initiatives in this area.

Outdoor school at the Human Rights Cairn at Vidden in Bergen.
Outdoor school at the Human Rights Cairn at Vidden in Bergen.

Education adapted to a new era

For our democracy and human rights education, it has been important to support schools and teachers in handling the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have revised our programme to include digital education, outdoor courses and training adapted to infection protection at both the Rafto House and in schools. This has enabled us to reach more than 7,500 students and teachers over the whole of western Norway in the most demanding of years. We have also increased the focus on our education platform, the Rafto model, and signalled the need for more resources to meet the growing demand from schools following the launch of our new curricula.

DOWNLOAD THE ANNUAL REPORT 2020: DOWNLOAD THE ANNUAL REPORT

Speculating on the Nobel Peace Prize 2021

February 4, 2021

Speculating about the Nobel Peace Prize is a sport that keeps some media busy most of the year.

Although thousands of people, from members of parliaments worldwide to former winners, are eligible to propose candidates (see list in link), it is the group of Norwegian parliamentarians that has nominated the eventual laureate every year since 2014 (with the exception of 2019), according to Henrik Urdal, Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. And for this year Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organization and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg are among those nominated by backed by Norwegian lawmakers.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides who wins the award, does not comment on nominations, keeping secret for 50 years the names of nominators and unsuccessful nominees. But the nominators themselves can choose to reveal their choice and often do.

On 31 January 2021 Gwladys Fouche and Nora Buli started off the guessing season by reporting that, according to a Reuters survey of Norwegian lawmakers, nominees include Thunberg, Navalny, the WHO and its COVAX programme to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

Other names are Belarusian activists Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo for their “fight for a fair election and inspiration for peaceful resistance”, one nominator, Geir Sigbjoern Toskedal, said. Another, Jette Christensen, also named the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group, and IUSTITIA, a group of Polish judges defending civil rights. “My nomination this year is … for the fight to preserve democracy as a form of government in Europe,” Christensen said.

Freedom of information is a recurring theme with nominees including the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists; former Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb el Rhazoui; news website Hong Kong Free Press, the U.S.-based International Fact-Checking Network and Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF). Also mentioned are: the Black Lives Matter movement and Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who has become a leading voting rights advocate.

Other nominees include former U.S. President Donald Trump (by Jaak Madison, a member of the right-wing populist EKRE party) as well as Kushner and Berkowitz for negotiating deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco), .

Also on the list are NATO and again the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) as well as Aminatou Haidar, for her peaceful campaigning towards an independent Western Sahara, the International Space Station and the International Scout Movement.

https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/

https://www.kcrg.com/2021/02/02/explainer-how-nobel-peace-prize-nominations-come-about/

https://www.euronews.com/2021/02/01/donald-trump-estonian-mep-jaak-madison-nominates-ex-us-president-for-nobel-peace-prize

You can watch the RAFTO 2020 ceremony online

November 20, 2020

The Rafto Prize Award Ceremony took place on 8 November 2020. The Rafto Prize for 2020 was awarded the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/09/25/rafto-prize-for-2020-goes-to-the-egyptian-commission-for-rights-and-freedoms-ecrf/

If you did miss out, you can rewatch the entire Rafto Prize Award Ceremony here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/477734125

PERFORMANCES:

JONAS ALASKA// With his down-to-earth, personal and honest portrayals, it’s no wonder Jonas Alaska is a critic’s favourite. Already with his debut album, he was triple-nominated for the Norwegian Grammy.

NORA GUNDERSEN & ODA VOLTERSVIK // Nora Gundersen and concert pianist Oda Voltersvik will perform at Den Nationale Scene in November! They have both played as solo artists and chamber musicians both in Norway and abroad.

DØSSI // Ingrid Døssland, known as DØSSI, is a producer and singer/songwriter. With her dreamy voice, DØSSI draws you in to her own world of feelings and melancholy.

FRODE GRYTTEN // Frode Grytten has, throughout an extensive and critically acclaimed career, distinguished himself as one of Norway’s foremost writers.

SHARQANT // Sharquant is a band consisting of three musicians with backgrounds from Syria and Iraq. The band was established in 2018, in Bergen. Their music consists of a blend of different parts of the Arab culture, and their music transports the audience to the Mediterranean region.

Guri Solberg is the host of the Rafto Prize Award Ceremony!

4 December 2020: seminar on Norwegian support to human rights defenders.

November 13, 2020

The Norwegian Center for Human Rights and the Norwegian Human Rights Fund invite you to a seminar addressing the Norwegian and international support to human rights defenders.

This seminar will focus on the role of human rights defenders in creating sustainable, peaceful and just societies, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal 16. It will look at the role and support of the Norwegian government, Oslo Municipality, the University of Oslo and Norwegian civil society in the protection of individuals and organisations working for human rights and peaceful and just societies. How can these institutions collectively – and individually – meet the needs of the day, both during and after COVID-19?

Program

13:00-13:10: Welcome by the Rector of the University of Oslo, Svein Stølen.

Welcome by the organizers: NHRF (Executive Director Sandra Petersen) and NCHR (Head of Department Gentian Zyberi).

Short introduction of the panels by the facilitators.

13:10-14:25: Panel 1: The current situation of Human Rights Defenders and protection work.

Key speakers:

Asha Kowtal, Dalit Human Rights Defender, India

Idil Eser, “Scholars at Risk” and former Director of Amnesty International Turkey [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/06/istanbul-court-jails-four-human-rights-defenders-on-terror-charges-seven-acquitted/]

Luciana Peri, Coordinator of Shelter Initiatives, ProtectDefenders.eu

John Peder Egenæs, Director of Amnesty International Norway

Moderator:Nora Sveaass, Professor Emeritus (University of Oslo), member of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and member of NHRF’s Advisory Board.

14:25 – 14:45: BREAK.

14:45 – 16:00: Panel 2: The role of international, national and local support to Human Rights Defenders

Short video messages from human rights defenders from different countries with recommendations to Norwegian and international actors supporting human rights defenders.

Key note: Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders (digital participation)

Panel:

Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

Moderator: Sandra Petersen, Executive Director of the NHRF.

Concluding remarks by the NCHR.

The seminar will be streamed.

https://nhrf.no/event/norwegian-and-international-support-to-human-rights-defenders-under-and-after-covid-19

Chinese sensitivity again on display re human rights awards

August 29, 2020
Kunal Gaurav in Republic World of 29 August 2020 illustrates again how extremely sensitive China remains with regard to human rights awards, unwittingly underlining the strong symbolic value they can have.

China

China has warned Norway against awarding Nobel Peace Prize to pro-democracy activists of Hong Kong, saying it doesn’t want to see the politicisation of the award. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on a rare visit to Norway as the country prepares to take up the rotational seat of United Nations Security Council, of which China is a permanent member, for 2021-22.

“I would only say one thing: In the past, today, and in future, China will firmly reject any attempt by anyone to use the Nobel Peace Prize to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Wang told reporters when asked about the possibility.

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Dalai Lama, head monk of Tibetan Buddhism, for his willingness to compromise and seek reconciliation despite brutal violations had irked China. Later, the Nobel Foundation awarded the prize to Lui Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The decision immediately froze diplomatic relations between Norway and China, which resumed in December 2016.

Hong Kong has been the epicentre of pro-democracy protests and China enforced a controversial security law which has allegedly undermined the autonomy of the region. Several countries have revoked the extradition treaty with the semi-autonomous region, calling the draconian law as a flagrant violation of Sino-British agreement after which the city returned to Chinese rule.

According to a Hong Kong daily, the foreign minister said that the Chinese government doesn’t want to see anyone politicise the Nobel Peace Prize. Calling on Norway to cherish the current relationship, Wang said that the bilateral relationship can continue to develop in a sustained and sound manner if both parties can “continue to respect each other and treat each other as equals.”

At a press briefing on August 28, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said that the leaders had an extensive discussion ranging from COVID-19 response to international trade and the free-trade agreement. She said that they also had extensive discussions on human rights, an issue of international concern given China’s history and ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/china/china-warns-norway-against-awarding-nobel-peace-prize-to-hong-kong-act.html

EU’s Ugandan Human Rights Defenders Award 2020 to Aimé Moninga

June 19, 2020

The EU and Norway – on 18 June 2020 – presented their annual Human Rights Defenders Award in Uganda to Mr. Aimé Moninga, in recognition of his ground-breaking work with male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and abuse. Although it is a national award and therefoe does not figure in THF’s Digest of international human rights awards [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest], I always refer to them as they are an example of ‘good practice’ by diplomatic missions [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/05/23/two-ugandans-get-eu-human-rights-award-in-uganda/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/01/13/quick-reminder-of-the-eu-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/].

Aimé Moninga was nominated for the Human Rights Defenders Award due to his work in support of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and his leadership of Men of Hope, a survivors’ association. He has put this difficult and sensitive issue on the policy agenda in an unprecedented way, both on a national and international level, and he is developing a generation of survivors who are prepared to testify in public to their experiences. He was chosen as this year’s award winner from among 50 nominations received from members of the public in Uganda.

Only a few years ago, the problems faced by male victims of sexual violence were barely discussed, even in human rights circles. Being a refugee and a violence survivor himself, Aimé Moninga has managed to mobilise many other survivors to speak. His advocacy efforts have also yielded results. For example, the Ugandan Police Force training curricula now includes references to both female and male victims of sexual abuse and violence. He is also advocating for further legislative changes.

Responding to the announcement, Aimé Moninga said, “This prize is for me and all the survivors of sexual violence, a consideration and a recognition of our struggle against impunity.”

Being an activist is not easy but being a refugee human rights activist in an area of rights that sometimes is not even recognised or acknowledged is indeed the sharp end of activism”, said Mr. Per Lindgärde, the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda speaking at today’s award ceremony in Kampala.

Mr Attilio Pacifici, Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda also spoke at this morning’s award ceremony. “Human rights are not advanced by themselves, it takes the courage and dedication of women and men, organisations and institutions to advance this agenda and ensure that rights become a lived reality for everyone in society”.

The Human Rights Defenders Award is presented every year by the European Union and Norway to recognise an outstanding contribution by a human rights defender active in Uganda. This year’s award, which is in its 9th year, is also given in memory of the late Hon. Med Kaggwa [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/24/ugandan-human-rights-commissioner-med-kaggwa-dies/].

Press Release: Conflict survivor Aimé Moninga wins EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2020

The Human Rights House concept

May 30, 2020

Human Rights Houses are coalitions of civil society organisations working together to advance human rights at home and abroad.

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) works with civil society organisations to establish and support Human Rights Houses as bases for human rights activities. While member organisations are often co-located under one roof, the structure and make-up of House reflects the local needs and local context. This allows Houses to provide relevant benefits to a local human rights community as a whole and enhance the national capacity to uphold and protect human rights and independent civil society.

HRHF connects Human Rights Houses, building an international network for change and freedoms, and today, the network extends across 11 countries with 17 Houses.

Membership in Human Rights House provides solidarity, as well as opportunities for collaboration and networking. Working together, member organisations have greater opportunity to influence the human rights agenda. House members are also able to more effectively pool resources and benefit from reduced administration costs. Finally, in a time of closing space for civil society and attacks against human rights defenders, House membership offers a level of security and protection from increased threats and harassment.

HRHF’s Human Rights House concept is built around the enduring values of solidarity and partnership. It remains as important today as when the first House opened its doors in Oslo in 1989.

While each Human Rights House is unique, all houses are collaborative, independent, relevant, sustainable, effective, and united.

Human Rights Houses: collaborative, independent, relevant, sustainable, united

To find out more:

General enquiries, Human Rights House Foundation info@humanrightshouse.org

Norwegian Human Rights Fund publishes its theory of change

May 20, 2020

Perhaps the home-bound period of the pandemic is a good time to reflect more deeply on the way we work. The Norwegain Human Rights Fund has done this [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/29/nhrf-seeks-a-theory-of-change-consultant/] and now reports the first result:

The development of the theory of changewas a participatory process involving the NHRF Secretariat, its Board, NHRF local consultants, and a selection of grantee partners. It is a living document that represents our theory of how change is created and driven forward. It articulates expected outcomes and their preconditions that, together, form pathways of change that lead to the overall goal. We understand these processes to be non-linear, interconnected, interdependent, mutually reinforcing, and occurring simultaneously or separately. The theory of change will guide our work as a partner and grantmaker by informing the support we provide to human rights work to achieve the defined outcomes and overall goal. It is one of the key elements used in our monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes. We will regularly review and refine the theory of change as we assess if our interventions are bringing about change and if the pathways of change are accurate and realistic.

Download our Theory of Change

https://nhrf.no/what-we-are/theory-of-change