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RARE – Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe

The EU is based on the rule of law. Threats to the rule of law challenge its legal political and economic basis. Deficiencies in one Member State impact other Member States and the EU as a whole. – 2020 Rule of Law Report. The rule of law situation in the European Union {SWD(2020) 300-326}, p.2.

What is RARE?

Recharging advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) was designed to respond to ever-growing threats to the EU’s foundations of high democratic standards and human rights protection. RARE brings together leading European human rights defenders in a two-year capacity- and alliance-building programme centered around closely monitoring and advocating against possible infringements of these foundational principles of the Union. RARE also aims to build awareness that “an attack against one civic organization operating in one jurisdiction is a threat against all others too”.

In order to counteract the increasingly challenging national operating contexts within the borders of the EU, human rights NGOs need to become engaged advocates vis à vis their governments, as well as towards other European countries and multilateral organizations. The groundwork for mobilizing the necessary skills and resources to meet these goals will be laid over the course of nine networking and capacity-building camps in different European cities. Not only will this enhance the visibility of the various organizations in the international public sphere, but it builds a dedicated community for joint advocacy campaigns and lobbying.

RARE offers a platform and ensures a secure space for civil society to play its role more effectively – Pepijn Gerrits, Executive Director NHC

Programme Outline

At the kick-off event in March 2021, key programme stakeholders came together to develop a joint strategic plan of action and to identify potential areas for collaborative advocacy. In the follow-up meeting in May 2021, participants received training to more effectively hone their strategic thinking skills and their organizations’ action strategies while also taking into account the potential interlinkages between human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. The next camps will include trainings on communication, advocacy, leadership, and networking, among others.

Partners, Donors and Participants

RARE is an initiative of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Executive Education Department of the Hertie School, and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. The programme receives support from Stiftung Mercator, Erste Stiftung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Council of Europe, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Federal Ministry of the Republic of Austria for European and International Affairs, the OSCE Network, the Friedrich Ebert Stuftung, the National Postcode Lottery of The Netherlands and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. RARE brings together a network of 27 outstanding human rights defenders, including a the Manager of the NHC’s Integrity & Accountability program, Joeri Buhrer Tavanier . Find out more about all of the activists involved in the RARE program here.

For all up-to-date information follow the RARE Twitter account.

A sampling of RARE’s activities

Camp IV: Getting Advocacy Right

As part of Camp IV of the RARE programme, on the topic of “Getting Advocacy Right, on 22 September 2021 representatives of Dutch Ministries met with participants of the RARE programme in The Hague, for an in-depth discussion on the current state of Rule of Law in the European Union. Read more on the NHC’s coverage of the event here.

Camp II: Strategy

Strategy and thought processes accompanying its formation are often neglected in the day-to-day operations of many human rights organisations. In its Strategy Camp, RARE provided participating human rights defenders with the time and practical guidance needed to effectively hone their strategic thinking skills and their organisations’ action strategies.

“One of the things that we’ve been asking together is how complex is the world, how many unpredictable circumstances can force you to change your strategy, but also how they can be supportive towards getting to the aim of your work”, says one of RARE participants, Krzysztof Izdebski from the TransparenCEE Network, Poland.

Watch the video summary of this camp below.

State of the Union Conference May 2021

“Alliances for better protecting the rule of law and civic space in the EU”, European University Institute’s State of the Union 2021 conference, 6 May 2021

RARE programme lead, Márta Pardavi, and fellow panelists – Adam Bodnar, Ombudsman of Poland; MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, and Professor Laurent Pech drew on their experiences within national human rights institutions, EU institutions, civil society and academia to inform discussions on how multinational initiatives can effectively cooperate to protect civic space.

Find the full recording of the EUI State of the Union 2021 conference here: