Human Rights prize nominees sought by Nov 10/Forum 98 fwd

Tom Boland (
Wed, 4 Nov 1998 03:38:18 -0400

=46WD  Reply To: <>

                       HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

                        Call for Candidates

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, Forum 98, a coalition of NGOs, wishes to highlight
the difficulties and even risks that those who fight for the respect
of human dignity live with on an almost daily basis.

=46orum 98 has decided to reward a human rights defender by
awarding him/her with a prize.

The prize is to be named after Paul Gr=FCninger, a Swiss officer
who, during the Second World War, disobeyed the authorities to
save the lives of many Jews.

The applications - an individual, group or organisation - must be
sent to Forum 98 by November 10, 1998.

The Forum's criteria for awarding this prize have been directly
drawn from the action programme, adopted by the two hundred
delegates who came from all over the world, at the end of August
1998, to attend the meeting organised by Forum 98. This
programme, that you will find enclosed, defines human rights
defenders and the kinds of actions that this Prize aims to

The winner of the prize will be awarded the sum of 30'000 Swill
francs. We would like to thank the city of Geneva for its
generosity and support for the prize.

Eric Sottas, President of Forum 98
CP 156
1211 Geneva 4
=46ax: 00 41 22 329 34 64


    1.	The concept of human rights defenders was a topic of debate
    in both the plenary sessions and in the working groups. The
    delegates agreed to avoid elaboration of a supplementary
    definition of human rights defenders, but did adopt certain
    criterion in order to assure the largest possible interpretation of all
    definitions which could be applied to implementation or to the
    framework of legal national, regional or international instruments.

    2.	The concept of human rights defenders encompasses the
    ensemble of rights defined within fundamental legal instruments,
    at the regional level as at the international level, such as the
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of 1948.

    It was underlined that all persons and all movements fighting for
    the promotion of specific human rights such as, for example, the
    right to development, the right to culture, the right to a healthy
    environment, women's rights, the right to self=17determination, and
    the rights of indigenous peoples, should be recognised as human
    rights defenders in all senses of the term.

3.  The essence of the defence of human rights assumes the
    constant promotion of one or several of the human rights
    defined in the international norms adopted by the United

    Those considered to be human rights defenders were, amongst
    others, lawyers, judges, jurists, journalists, peasants, health
    professionals, trade unionists, students, parents of the victims and
    feminists. Also mentioned were the defenders of indigenous
    rights, rights of the disabled, rights of slaves, peoples rights,
    children's rights, and artists as well as other people who inquire
    about violations and who denounce those violations, those who
    protect and assist the victims, those who fight against impunity
    and those who mobilise, in a general way, the communities to
    which they belong.

4.  The essential elements which characterise the activities of
    human rights defenders are based in their objectivity, their
    impartiality and in their independence vis=17=E0=17vis public,
    religious and economic powers as well as political parties.

5.  Human rights defenders are considered as those who, within
    the framework of the promotion and protection of human
    rights, use means compatible with fundamental human rights
    such as those defined in international legal instruments.

6.  The assembly insisted upon the fact that human rights
    defenders do not enjoy particular rights or privileges, but that
    they must benefit from adequate protection, proportional to
    the risks, reprisals, harassment and violations which they face
    due to their work in favour of human rights.


    The work of human rights defenders does not originate from a
    neutral or ideological position, but rather from a conscious
    awareness of injustice, of pain inflicted on others, and of ethical
    indignation, which leads to a constant commitment to work for the
    rights of the oppressed who suffer. The sentiments of justice and
    compassion are principles of sensitisation which mobilise the
    solidarity efforts of human rights defenders. These efforts are not
    the result of a theoretical approach, but rather of the willingness
    to respond to an appeal, to identify with the victims and to give
    them the means necessary to change their situation.


    Human rights defenders operate within the framework of State
    structures and in relation with degrading economic exchanges.
    The globalisation of the neo=17liberal economic model is dismantling
    the welfare state (where this project existed) and has stopped its
    development in those places where initial steps have been made.
    This reality affects the actions of human rights defenders who
    can no longer respond to the victims without considering these
    structural injustices.

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