How can we protect human rights defenders at risk?

Ill: Kevin Johaan Correa Valenzuela

Time: 12 Jun 2024 15:00 - 16:00 CEST
Place: Nobel Peace Center

"Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights"

This is a free event, but registration is required.

Human rights defenders stand up for the rights of their communities and for all of us. For this, they are celebrated by many. But they are also threatened, silenced, shamed online and even killed. How can organisations, governments and individuals contribute to their protection?

One way of supporting can be offering rest and respite for human rights defenders at risk to strengthen and sustain social movements, as well as efficiently prevent burnout, health issues and other side-effects of human rights defenders’ challenging work situation. In other words, to let human rights defenders breathe is a key strategy in supporting human rights movements globally. How effective are these types of initiatives and what other ways of protecting human rights defenders can be meaningful?

To explore these questions, the Norwegian Human Rights Fund invites you to a panel conversation, where we discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of different initiatives together with relevant actors. Among others, human rights defender and lawyer from Sri Lanka and current participant in the rest and respite programme Oslo Breathing Space City, Suren Perera, will take part in this panel conversation and share first-hand experiences with the audience.

About Breathing Space City:

Breathing Space City is an initiative with the aim of creating a breathing space for human rights defenders at risk. The goal is that human rights defenders come to Oslo for a three-month stay to take a break from their everyday life, and then return to their home countries with a larger and stronger network, having rested and recovered, and carrying feelings of solidarity and support with them. Breathing Space City will also be a tool to educate a wider audience, namely the citizens of Oslo, on human rights work and create solidarity between cities and human rights movements around the world. During the pilot period between January 2023 and December 2024, Oslo will have been the host city for a total of eight human rights defenders.


16.45 Doors open

17.00 Opening remarks

by the Norwegian Human Rights Fund and presentation of NHRF’s annual report for 2023

17.10 Panel conversation

• Moderation by Ingeborg Moa, Director at the Norwegian Human Rights Fund, and participation from:

• Suren Perera, human rights defender from Sri Lanka and current Breathing Space City guest

• Maria Dahle, Director at the Human Rights House Foundation

• Liv Hernæs Kvanvig, Policy Director for Human Rights at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)

18.00 End of programme