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10 NGOs in Europe Advocating for Human Rights

Refugee Rights Europe

Founded in London in late 2015, Refugee Rights Europe is a human rights NGO working with a mission ‘’to call on those in positions of power to bring about much needed change and uphold their national and international obligations in relation to people in displacement.

The organization conducts research and documents the situation of displaced people and refugees seeking protection in Europe. Refugee Rights Europe focuses on human rights abuses and inadequate humanitarian conditions in which refugees and displaced groups find themselves. Through its research results, the organization advocates for human rights centered policy development to secure that the rights of these affected groups are upheld on the European continent and in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

TRIAL International

TRIAL International is an NGO that fights impunity for international crimes and supports victims in their search for justice. Founded in 2002, the organization has offices in two European countries-Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by one office in Africa and Asia.

TRIAL International follows and works based on innovative approaches to the law, paving the way to justice for survivors of unspeakable sufferings. It provides support to victims in forms of legal assistance, litigation of cases, and development of local capacities, all while pushing forward the human rights agenda. Its work is based on the belief of ‘’a world where impunity for international crimes is no longer tolerated and only when victims are heard, and perpetrators held accountable can the rule of law prevail’’.

Anti-Slavery International

Established in 1839 in the United Kingdom, Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights NGO basing its work on the UN treaties against slavery. It is committed to eradicating all forms of slavery and slavery like practices worldwide.

Anti-Slavery International works closely with partners organizations from across the world. Working at grassroots levels informs and shapes the organization’s work and drives it to bring a change on a global level and influence decision makers, particularly when it comes to the issue of bonded labor or debt bondage, descent-based slavers, forced labor, forced marriage, all forms of child labor, the exploitation of migrant workers in conditions amounting to slavery, and human trafficking. To achieve these goals, Anti-Slavery has worked towards gaining the consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and observer status at the International Labor Organization.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

FIDH is international human rights NGO federating 192 organizations from 117 countries. It was established in 1922 and ever since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The organization’s headquarters is located in Paris, but it also expands with permanent delegations in the UN in Geneva and New York, in the EU in Brussels and within the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as well as with a regional office in Tunis and several joint bureaus across Africa. FIDH works on all levels to support its members in addressing human rights abuse and consolidating democratic processes. FIDH works on the basis of three pillars: securing the freedom and capacity to act for human rights defenders, the universality of rights and their effectiveness.

Rights and Humanity

Rights and Humanity is an international NGO ‘’contributing to development, peace and environmental sustainability through the realization of human rights and responsibilities’’. Since its establishment in 1986, its work has expanded to 54 countries worldwide and brought together people of diverse faith, cultures, professions, and political ideas.

In its work, the organization prioritizes the rights and needs of people living in social exclusion and poverty, mainly in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Rather than monitoring human rights abuses, Rights and Humanity focuses on the practical realization of human rights by tackling the root causes of poverty and providing solutions. It also works on empowering, inspiring, and informing both individuals and groups to play their role in the protection of human rights.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International describes itself ‘’as a global movement of more than seven million people who take injustice personally’’ and who are ‘’campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

Amnesty International is active in investigating and exposing facts about human rights abuses, lobbying governments and powerful groups to respect international law, mobilizing millions of supporters through social media to campaign for change and defend activists, and supporting people to claim their rights through training and education. Over the years, the organization has on a spectrum of human rights issues, from abolishing the death penalty to protecting reproductive and sexual rights, fighting against discrimination and defending rights of migrants and refugees. Amnesty International ‘’speaks out for anyone and everyone whose freedom and dignity are under threat’’.

Human Rights Without Frontiers International (HRWF)

HRWF is a human rights NGO based in Brussels, Belgium, working on promotion of human rights around the world and advocating for democracy, the rule of law and social justice. Besides Belgium, the organization has offices in Nepal and China.

The organization conducts research, field missions, monitoring and analysis concentrating on a wide range of issues related to human rights around the world. It focuses its attention mainly on freedom of religion or belief, women’s rights and gender equality, LGBTIQ rights, and human rights abuses in China, North Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. It advocates for the respect of human rights mainly through the EU institutions in Brussels, the UN in Geneva and the OSCE in Warsaw and Vienna.

Minority Rights Group International

Based in London, the Minority Group International works in 50 countries worldwide on advancing the protection of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities and indigenous peoples around the world. It works with more than 150 partners to ensure that rights of minorities and indigenous people are upheld and that their voices are heard.

The organization concentrates in protecting and advocating for rights of minorities and indigenous people land and languages and to achieve this, it uses media, cultural programs, legal cases, training and education. It also advocates for minorities to be given an equal access to education and employment. Last, but certainly not the least, it holds consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and observer status with the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

International Society for Human Rights (ISHR)

Together with its national branches, the ISHR represents an independent human rights NGO that bases its work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was established in 1972 with headquarters in Germany, with a goal to promote an understanding and tolerance in all areas of culture and society on an international level.

The organization bases its work on the philosophy that ‘’the realization of human rights and the improvement of social conditions cannot be pursues through the use of force’’. It supports people who share and follow this principle and seek to claim their rights in a non-violent setting. ISHR, thus, has around 30.000 members in 38 countries around the world, as well as consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, associated status with the UN Department of Public Information and participative status with the European Council.

Lawyers Without Borders / Avocats Sans Frontieres

Lawyers Without Borders was established by a group of Belgian lawyers in 1992. Today, the organization specializes in defending human rights and access to justice and it has field offices in seven countries and employs around 80 people of more than 15 different nationalities.

The organization works around the world informing people about their rights, helping civil society organizations and lawyers to provide them with a proper assistance, and promoting legislative reforms to achieve an increase in respect for human rights. Lawyers Without Borders implements all its projects to assist people to have access to the legal system and to promote the endorsement of human rights, and the rule of law in developing and post-conflict countries.

About the author

Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.