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RARE: The Who, the What and the Why at FRA Rights Forum 2021

21 October 2021

RARE comes from this idea that only with joint solidarity can we address the challenges of shrinking civic space and rule of law backsliding – Márta Pardavi, Co-chair, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

At this year’s Rights Forum, on 11 October 2021, organised by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Conference, Márta Pardavi and NHC’s Executive Director Pepijn Gerrits introduced the Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) project, the brainchild of a conglomerate of human rights defenders, hungry for change.

Across Europe, human rights and Rule of Law have been on a steady decline, and whilst political leaders across Europe have been showing human rights and their defenders the door, “rights defenders are resisting these pressures” and “this is what RARE is about” – according to Pardavi:

The idea is that we have a really strong network speaking up for human rights and democracy today in the EU.

Building blocks of RARE

Gerrits explained that Rule of Law, civic space and human rights are the three core themes of RARE, as well as forming the essential basis to European democracy.

The need for a programme such as RARE, focussed on “Recharging” human rights defenders, becomes evident when we consider how taxing the work can be:

Human rights defenders are rarely popular at the time when they are operating. – Andras Lederer, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

In order to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices within the programme, camps form the backbone of RARE. From communications to strategy, these camps facilitate a space in which the participating human rights defenders can change their approach and develop “unusual solutions in unusual ways.” Hear more about the strategic processes from RARE participants here.

The People of RARE

People don’t know each other, but the fights are very similarThomas Lohninger, Executive Director, Epicenter.Works

RARE consists of 26 individuals, senior staff in organisations working on subjects within the human rights spectrum – ranging from gender to corruption. Their motivations are as diverse as their focusses. Among the RARE participants is Joeri Buhrer Tavenir, Programme manager at the NHC:

I joined RARE as it is a great opportunity to work together with the best and the brightest experts from across Europe. Our organisations are all working towards the same goals, but do not always cooperate to the fullest. RARE gives me the opportunity to exchange views and ideas and strategise together.

Learn more about the people behind RARE here.

Who are your unlikely allies?

During the interactive session of the Right Forum, participants were asked to share where they were joining from and which organisation they worked for. They were also asked who their unusual allies were in their work – actors that would not perhaps be your first guess when working with but have been a great source of inspiration and motivation.

Among the answers, people mentioned the importance young people, the public as well as artists.

Creativity is a wonderful tool for us to advance the most complex human rights issues – Marta Pardavi, Co-chair, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Victims of human rights violations were also mentioned amongst the unlikely allies list.Pardavi mentioned that indeed “very often victims are great advocates for a cause,” and working alongside them is empowering and a great way to feature real people, “not just those of us who are sitting behind a desk”.

Pardavi emphasised that the people of RARE would love to cooperate with civil society all over– get in touch or become an ally of RARE and follow them on Twitter or subscribe to their YouTube.

(Re)Watch the event here. To see the rest of the Forum head here.