Dutch NGOs award first Human Rights Prize for Embassies
As of 2022, the members of the Netherlands Human Rights Network (18 Dutch human rights and development organizations) will biennially award a prize to the Dutch embassy that has made the most (pro)active, concrete and effective efforts for the defense and promotion of human rights. The Prize was initiated by Free Press Unlimited.
In choosing the winner, the BMO particularly looks at the efforts of embassies to promote the rights of civil society organizations and human rights defenders to do their important work. In other words, what actions embassies take to actively promote, protect and expand the space and freedom for those fighting for human rights. With this prize, we wish to acknowledge those embassies that have acted proactively and innovatively to protect and defend human rights and the space for civil society and wish to encourage all embassies to do the same. In June 2022, the prize will be awarded for the first time during the Ambassadors conference.
Worldwide, time is running out for human rights. Those that stand up for human rights are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, intimidation and violence. The Covid-19 outbreak has worsened the state of human rights and democracy all over the world. The fight against the pandemic is abused by many governments to limit civil liberties and to suppress those who stand up for human rights.
In this context, the role of embassies is more important than ever. Embassies have a fundamental responsibility to promote human rights and to protect and enable those that defend human rights. As required by, for example, the EU guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (and other EU Human Rights Guidelines) and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, embassies are required to proactively support human rights defenders and civil society. The prize underlines this responsibility and rewards the extra efforts that embassies take to fulfill it.
The 2022 Human Rights Prize for Embassies will be awarded by the chair of the jury, Ruth Kronenburg, Director of Free Press Unlimited. The announcement of the winner is followed by a panel discussion on how embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can contribute to countering and preventing shrinking civic space. Speakers include the ambassador of the winning embassy, the Dutch Human Rights Ambassador Bahia Tahzib-Lie, a human rights defender from Hungary, and a representative from the BMO.