Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

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

Norwegian Human Rights Fund Annual report 2019

April 21, 2020

From the Preface written John Peder Egenæs and Sandra Petersen of the Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF):

…..2019 will stand out as an important year for the Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF) in terms of growth and development. … We believe that the seeds of change planted by grantees every day will result in a robust and forceful defense for future generations. As this annual report demonstrates, our grantees and local human rights defenders are continuing to stand up and fight for a future of equality and dignity for all. For some, their work centers on ensuring that vulnerable workers have safe and dignified work environments, for others it’s providing psychosocial support for families of the disappeared and seeking justice for victims of torture and others are leading movements for gender equality. Establishing links, coordinating and collaborating on the local and national levels to create better working conditions for civil society and human rights defenders are crucial to strengthening the work and moving it forward. For this work, we support grantees who build networks and equip and empower defenders with the tools and skills needed for their work; who advocate for positive laws or the prevention of restrictive laws to protect or enable a thriving civil society; and others who provide relief, support and legal representation for human rights activists in cases of arbitrary arrests, detention or when they’re facing threats. Our grantees’ work is interlinked and reinforcing; success in one struggle impacts and can lead to success in another. Their work is driven by the needs on the ground and thus it comes in many forms, but the efforts to contribute to make positive and structural changes and the realization of human rights are shared by all. In 2019, the Norwegian government led an adoption of a new resolution on environmental human rights defenders – a critically important response during one of the most dangerous and even deadly points in recent history for human rights defenders, especially those who fight for natural resources, the rights of indigenous peoples and against environmentally detrimental megaprojects. …… Working together with our partners, we are able to see the reality of the dire situation for people on the front lines working for change, which leads us to seek to increase our support to and solidarity with their work. During 2019, the NHRF created strategic partnerships that increased the financial base for the years to come. We know this will be indispensable for local and front-line human rights defenders and for investing in the realization of human rights for the most vulnerable and marginalized. With these increased resources and with support from our partners, we will continue to invest and sow seeds that we believe will lead to long-term positive change…

 

Click to access NHRF-AR-2019-OL-20April-compressed-file.pdf

Forgotten Kashmir: something has to be done

February 9, 2020

...After more than 70 years of terror, killings, torture, and disappearances, the international community must renew its efforts to end the conflict in Kashmir. In 2018 and 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released reports that documented a wide range of abuses – including kidnappings, the killing of civilians, and sexual violence – perpetrated by both sides in the conflict. The UN needs to take the lead in stopping Kashmir’s torment. ……The conflict has consumed resources that should have been used for development; instead, they were channeled to arms purchases or a regional race to develop weapons of mass destruction. Everyone, regardless of age, religion, or ethnicity, has suffered, whether as a result of displacement, family separation, loss of property, the death or disappearance of friends and close relatives, grinding poverty, or simply the prospect of a future as bleak and constricted as the present.The international community has, at times, attempted to mediate between India and Pakistan. The UN has adopted resolutions demanding a referendum on Kashmir’s future status. But, even though it has long been evident that there is no military solution to the conflict – temporary ceasefire initiatives have never resulted in a lasting agreement – India to this day has resisted a plebiscite. In 2003, Pakistan’s then-president, Pervez Musharraf, formulated a four-step approach to a political solution. Without insisting on a referendum, India and Pakistan would begin a dialogue; recognize Kashmir as the main source of bilateral hostility; identify and eliminate what was unacceptable to each side; and strive for a solution acceptable to both countries – and especially to the people of Kashmir. Subsequently, a ceasefire was declared, and high-level meetings took place, but, following a terrorist attack, India terminated the talks. In 2012, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried unsuccessfully to revive the process.

I have been personally engaged with the Kashmir issue for some time. Last year, I held meetings with senior politicians in Pakistan and India. I am well aware that India wants to treat the Kashmir conflict solely as a bilateral issue. But in that case, it should take the initiative in starting talks with Pakistan. If that does not happen, the international community must demand that the parties come together to negotiate a peaceful solution.

Again, it is not up to the UN or anyone else to impose a solution on the parties. The current situation is rooted in a highly complex mix of history and politics, and any viable settlement must reflect Kashmir’s unique circumstances. A major issue to be addressed is the “line of control” separating Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, which hinders the free movement of people, divides families, and impedes business and trade. And, of course, Kashmir’s future status is the main question that must be resolved. During my last visit to Kashmir, I saw firsthand the level of violence and the severity of human-rights violations. Conditions have deteriorated further since India repealed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in October 2019, dissolved it as a state, and reorganized it as two “union territories” – all enforced by the security forces with a wave of arrests, a ban on assembly, and an Internet and media blackout.At a time of war in Syria and Yemen, and heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, it is difficult to get the international community to focus on Kashmir. But it is crucial that the conflict not be allowed to spiral out of control, especially given that both countries are nuclear powers. Above all, the people of Kashmir deserve a ceasefire, reconciliation, and stability, and it is the duty of the UN to advance this goal. I urge the UN to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir. And I appeal to UN Secretary-General António Guterres to seize the initiative and help deliver a long-overdue and lasting peace to this region…

“The Indian government must immediately end all draconian restrictions on fundamental freedoms in Jammu & Kashmir, and fully reinstate communications”, FIDH and its member organization People’s Watch urged on 5 February 2020. In conjunction with its call, FIDH released a briefing note that highlights some of the human rights concerns that have remained unaddressed since 5 August 2019. For the past six months, the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been living under siege and denied their fundamental rights under the most draconian of measures. These grave violations of human rights must come to an end, and accountability must be established for the serious violations that have occurred since 5 August.Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General
Since the evening of 4 August 2019, internet communications, and initially telephone lines, have been cut in Jammu & Kashmir, effectively isolating residents from the rest of the world. Although phone lines were gradually reinstated and internet access restored in certain places, personal internet connections are limited to 301 government-approved websites through a very slow 2G connection. Although accurate figures are unavailable, thousands of arbitrary detentions have been reported since 5 August 2019, including hundreds of detentions under the abusive 1978 Public Safety Act (PSA). Many detainees, particularly youth and low-ranking political activists, have been transferred to jails outside of Jammu & Kashmir, the location of which is unknown in many cases. There have also been numerous reports of excessive use of force by army and police forces, including reports of deaths and injuries as a result of the improper use of pellet guns and teargas. The reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir has also resulted in a number of measures that will have long-term implications for the human rights situation in the region, including the disbanding of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu & Kashmir – one of the few avenues for justice available to local people – at the end of October 2019. More than 500 cases of alleged enforced disappearances were pending before the SHRC at the time of its disbandment. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/17/fidh-dares-to-publish-a-report-on-key-human-rights-issues-of-concern-in-kashmir/]

Human rights violations of the gravest nature are nothing new in Jammu & Kashmir, and have gone unpunished for decades. But taking away the little autonomy the state had will only make the situation worse, especially when the people most affected by these changes have been denied their right to express their opinions. added Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch Executive Director

On 5 February the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requested an urgent intervention in the case of Mr. Miyan Abdul Qayoom, a human rights lawyer and President of Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association. Mr. Qayoom, 70,  suffers from multiple health conditions, including diabetes, double vessel heart disease, and kidney problems.
According to the information received, during the evening of January 29, 2020, Mr. Qayoom’s family received a phone call from Agra Central Jail’s authorities, in Uttar Pradesh State, informing them that Mr. Qayoom had been transferred to Sarojini Naidu Medical College after complaining of chest pain, breathlessness and his pulse rate had significantly gone down to 44pm, and asking them to visit him. On January 30, 2020, upon reaching Agra Central Jail, Mr. Qayoom’s relatives discovered that Mr. Qayoom had been taken back to the jail’s dispensary, even though his health condition had not improved.  On February 3, 2020, Jammu & Kashmir High Court Srinagar bench, after hearing the final arguments, reserved its judgement regarding Mr. Qayoom’s habeas corpus request. The scheduled date of the judgement was not known as of the publication of this Urgent Appeal…..
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https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/united-nations-must-mediate-political-solution-in-kashmir-by-kjell-magne-bondevik-2020-02

Call for nominations for the 2020 Rafto Prize

January 15, 2020

Rafto

The Bergen-based Rafto Foundation encourages everyone with an interest in or knowledge of human rights to make a nomination for the 2020 Rafto Prize. Read more about the formal criteria and how to nominate online at Rafto.no. (see link below).  Deadline for nominations is 1st February.  For more on this and similar awards go to: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/rafto-prize .

The dates for the 2020 Rafto Prize events are:

  • Announcement of the Rafto Prize: 24 September
  • The Rafto Conference: 7 November
  • The Award Ceremony: 8 November.

For last year, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/26/the-rafto-prize-2019-to-refugee-rights-defender-rouba-mhaissen-from-syria/

https://www.rafto.no/the-rafto-prize-1/nominasjoner