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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’s new cycle runs from October 2022 to June 2024

It is an exceptional opportunity for human rights defenders and civic space advocates from across the EU to meet, learn and strategise together. The prgoramme consists of ten capacity building camps and various side activities spread out over the period of 3 years and various locations across Europe.

Read more about RARE II below.

Programme Outline 2022-2024

The RARE II programme was opened with the kick-off camp in Crete in October, 2022 during which the participants were introduced to the organisers, RARE as a programme and the joint advocacy project. The camp included activities on how civic space and the rule of law in Europe could be strengthened, as well as focused on forging bonds between participants, identifying common values and highlighting many of the topics that will form the core of the subsequent nine camps. The second camp will take place in Novemeber 2022 in Tallinn, where the RARE cohort will receive training on public speaking, including speech writing and pitching their organizations and ideas. Five more camps will take place in 2023 in various locations all over Europe, including workshops on Communicating Human Rights, Open source Investigation Methods, Policy Writing, Networking and Non-profit Leadership. In 2024, 3 final camps are planned, starting with a training on EU networking in Brussels, through a workshop on Security of Human Rights Defenders in Budapest, and ending with a Strategic Management training and wrap-up in Cres. For a detailed calendar of RARE II click here.

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 Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland and Oxfam Novib.. 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.

Each edition of RARE brings together a network of 27 outstanding human rights defenders, this year including the NHC’s Relations and Advocacy Officer Aïcha Chaghouani . Find out more about all of the activists involved in the RARE program here.

Participants of the RARE II programme at the kick-off camp in Crete, October 2022

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

About RARE I

Programme Outline 2021-2022

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 following 9 camps included trainings on communication, advocacy, leadership, and networking, among others.

A sampling of RARE’s activities 2021-2022

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: