Fwd: Forum 98 - call for candidacies

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Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 10:46:35 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Fwd: Forum 98 - call for candidacies

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: HR Center of Azerbaijan <eldar@hrcenter.baku.az>

Fwd: Forum 98 - call for candidacies

Call for candidacies
Ladies, gentlemen, dear human rights defenders friends,
In honour of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, Forum 98, a coalition of NGOs created thanks to the
initiative of Swiss authorities, wishes to pay particular attention to
the difficulties and even risks, endured by those who fight for the
respect of human dignity. Forum 98 has decided to reward a human
rights defender by awarding him/her with a prize.
Thanks to the City of Geneva, this wish will become reality on
December 12th and this prize will be named after Paul Gr=FCninger, a
Swiss officer who, during the Second World War, had the audacity to
disobey the authorities, thereby saving many Jews. (This prize will be
endowed with a sum of 30'000.- Swiss francs).
The candidacies - 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, to attend the
meeting organised by Forum 98. This programme, that you will find
enclosed, defines a human rights defenders and the kinds of actions
that this Prize aims to encourage.
Looking forward to receive your propositions,
Warmest regards,
Eric Sottas, President of Forum 98
CP 156
1211 Geneva 4
Fax: 00 41 22 329 34 64
E-mail: forum98@world.com
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 selfdetermination, 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 Nations.
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-a-vis 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 neoliberal 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

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