The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a non-profit and non-partisan organization whose mission is to improve the human rights movement globally as well as protect and ensure people’s personal freedom to live the way they want to and to do it without supervision and government control. It unites people interested in developing life’s quality and security. Today, the organization works in about 15 countries all over the world and runs different socially important projects.

 

Being rightful right from the beginning

In 2005, a Venezuelan film producer and human rights advocate suddenly came to the conclusion that human rights represented and assured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) from the year 1948 and the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are not respected accurately. To change this state of things, he established the Human Rights Foundation with the head office at the New York Empire State Building. The organization’s mission is to ‘unite people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy <…> to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted’. At present, the activity of the company covers such countries as Bolivia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Panama, Pakistan, and Russia.

As the website reads, the Foundation abides traditional definition of human rights as they are put in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: as ‘rights to speak freely, to worship in the manner of their choice, to freely associate with those of like mind, to acquire and dispose of property, the right to leave and enter their country, to equal treatment and due process under law, the right to be able to participate in the government of their country, freedom from arbitrary detainment or exile, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. If the modern community will truly accept and follow this identification of people’s rights and some global humanity rules, is the most important question that the HRF hopes to answer positively one day.

The HRF is led and endorsed by an especially formed International Council that includes, according to the Foundation’s website, former political prisoners Vladimir Bukovsky, as well as former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar, former president of Venezuela Ramón José Velásquez, and political commentator Álvaro Vargas Llosa. Till December 2011 the HRF’s Council was chaired by Vaclav Havel. However, since then, the International Council is chaired by Russian chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

Project’s financial donors are DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias, actor Kelsey Grammer, human rights campaigner Bill Browder, actress Anne Archer, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, fashion designer Zang Toi and other. From time to time, the HRF project also receives different funds from organizations like the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Democracy in Russia, the John Templeton Foundation, the Roger Firestone Foundation, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment etc. Even the Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin and biotechnology analyst Anne Wojcicki, creators of Brin Wojcicki Foundation, decided to sponsor the Human Rights Foundation once. However, the founders are grateful for private or company donations which are accepted ‘with a categorical understanding that the foundation is free to research and investigate regardless of where such investigations may lead or what conclusions HRF may reach’.

 

Promoting social justice and personal freedom

Probably the only possible way to make things change and changes happen is to create huge meetings and actions connected to your activism movement and able to attract the attention of lots of important personalities and significant companies. The Human Rights Foundation knows this rule and that’s why every year it arranges different workshops and forums made as a unique platform to discuss the actual problems and find the solutions. There are some of the most famous HRF’s projects.

College Freedom Forum. The College Freedom Forum (CFF) is a set of one-day events created to teach and inform students about individual rights and democracy around the world. Each CFF emphasizes presentations and an opportunity for students and audience members. The events take place at the Yale University, the Tufts University, and the University of Colorado Boulder.

San Francisco Freedom Forum. The first San Francisco Freedom Forum took place in October 2012. At that time, the Forum was supported by a lot of important social projects and sponsors. Among them were Peter Thiel’s charitable foundation, Sergey Brin’s foundation, Anne Wojcicki, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The meeting brought attention to a number of human rights issues, such as Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman who defied her country’s ban on women driving by coordinating a “Women2Drive” protest via YouTube, and the representative of imprisoned Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Oslo Freedom Forum. This is probably the most glorious of all the HRF’s meetings which also has a quite long history. In 2009, the city of Oslo and the John Templeton Foundation promoted the first series of the Oslo Freedom Forum. During that first conference, human rights and democracy activists shared their stories and expressed their opinions about human’s freedom in the modern world. Participants included author Jung Chang, holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, Buddhist monk Palden Gyatso, North Korea escapee Park Sang Hak, former British royal Sarah, Duchess of York and Chinese activist Harry Wu. The project won popularity which caused the funders activism one year later, when the Forum was sponsored by Norwegian government Foreign Ministry, Amnesty Internacional Norway, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and was endorsed by the Nobel Peace Center and Freedom House etc.

In 2011, the Oslo Freedom Forum covered such topics as the ‘progress made in the realms of civil liberties and freedoms over the past century’ and ‘the rapidly growing movement for democracy in the Middle East’. In recent years participants of the Forum included Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, Twitter vice president Colin Crowell, Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, and former Russian political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The Oslo Forum is still one of the loudest of HRF’s movements and keeps on ‘collecting’ interesting and outstanding personalities around itself. This year, te ninth annual Oslo Forum will take place on May 22-24 and bring together a global community of people who are going to share their image of making the world a more peaceful, prosperous, and free place.

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