HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION INC

We defend and promote freedom where it's most at risk.

aka HRF   |   New York, NY   |  www.hrf.org

Mission

Our mission is to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted around the world. We focus our work on the founding ideals of the human rights movement, those most purely represented in the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We believe that all human beings are entitled to: Freedom of self-determination Freedom of speech and expression and association The right to worship in the manner of their choice The right to acquire and dispose of property The right to leave and enter their countries The right to equal treatment and due process under law The right to be able to participate in the government of their countries Freedom from arbitrary detainment or exile Freedom from slavery and torture Freedom from interference and coercion in matters of conscience

Ruling year info

2005

President and CEO

Thor Halvorssen

Main address

350 Fifth Avenue Suite 4202

New York, NY 10118 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-2669700

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

International Human Rights (Q70)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

One of the biggest threats that exists today is the global rise of authoritarianism. The number of people living under dictatorship exceeds the combined number of people who are affected by extreme poverty, lack of clean water, natural disasters, war and conflict, terrorism, and the refugee crisis. Dictatorship is therefore a bigger and arguably more urgent problem worldwide as a lot of these other crises are a consequence of dictatorial rule. Today, 54% of the world’s countries are ruled by authoritarian regimes, and 38% of countries by full-fledged dictatorships (which is over 2.9 billion people, who also represent 38% of the world’s population that are living under a tyrant, king, strongman, or military junta).

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Freedom Forum Conference Series

HRF's Freedom Forum conference series unites leaders from academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, social entrepreneurship, and technology to address the world’s most challenging human rights issues. The Freedom Forum’s objectives include exposing authoritarian and closed societies, establishing a human rights axis for journalists, and inspiring action through the exchange of ideas. By showcasing the work of activists and innovators, HRF raises human rights to the top of the global agenda. The flagship forum is held annually in Oslo and satellite events convene annually in New York, Taipei, Mexico City, and Johannesburg.

At the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), videos of activists telling their stories have received over 2.2 million global views. In one year alone, 18,000 social media posts will typically reach more than 225 million people in 100 countries. Last year, over 100 journalists attended OFF, resulting in numerous on-site interviews with activists in the OFF community. HRF aims to cultivate these relationships, elevating activists' stories and promoting freedom and civil liberties across the world through media and journalism.

HRF has expanded the conference series to include the College Freedom Forum (CFF), a series of one-day events on university campuses designed to connect students with activists who promote democracy and fundamental rights around the world. Each CFF features four short, inspiring talks by speakers who have previously appeared HRF conferences. The talks are followed by a question-and-answer session, with additional time for students to approach speakers for one-on-one conversations. HRF has hosted CFF at Tufts University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Yale University, Stanford University, and the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala.

Population(s) Served

In places where information is suppressed and censored, educational materials that provide a clear understanding of fundamental human rights are essential in the struggle for freedom and basic human dignity. In 2015, HRF launched "Your Human Rights,” a series of guides for freedom, adapted to be manually and digitally shared among dissidents in authoritarian regimes. HRF partners with international law experts and human rights advocates to create attractive, accurate, and accessible guides that explain and clarify the subject of human rights and basic human dignity.

Through this effort, HRF provides individuals in some of the world’s most repressive countries a useful and powerful tool to both inspire and inform. The first "Your Human Rights” guide, written in Spanish for the people of Cuba, now has ten thousand hard and digital copies circulating the country. Each guide is compact, engaging, and visually appealing. Because these guides are tailored to each country and culture, every section relates basic freedoms to examples of pertinent human rights violations in each particular country and culture.

Population(s) Served

The Human Rights Foundation makes the struggle for individual rights mainstream by denouncing pop culture figures who prop up dictators with performances and photo-ops. Through the extensive media coverage celebrity scandals attract, HRF calls out dictators and highlights their human rights abuses, reaching millions of readers in the process. Celebrities HRF has denounced include: Kanye West and Nicholas Cage in Kazakhstan, Danny Glover in Venezuela, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey in Angola, Jennifer Lopez in Turkmenistan, Hillary Swank in Chechnya, and Erykah Badu in Swaziland.

Population(s) Served

The Human Rights Foundation Center for Law and Democracy (HRF-CLD) promotes legal scholarship in the areas of comparative constitutional law and international law, with a focus on international human rights law and international democracy law.

In authoritarian countries, separation of powers does not exist, resulting in a lack of judicial independence. The lack of an independent judiciary that could potentially rule against the government and prevent its abuses is an essential component in the definition of an authoritarian regime. Legal proceedings under authoritarian regimes are a mere formality and courts are, in practice, enforcers of discretionary rules used to harass, jail, convict, and impose arbitrary sanctions against critics of the regime.

HRF’s Impact Litigation program provides international legal representation to prisoners of conscience whose cases are emblematic examples of the brutality of dictatorship. HRF’s team of international attorneys litigates on behalf of these courageous individuals before international courts and semi-judicial bodies, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and multiple other special procedures under the UN Human Rights Council.

Population(s) Served

North Korea continues to be ruled by a dynastic, totalitarian, communist dictatorship. The vast majority of North Koreans have no access to outside information: no internet, no foreign postal mail, and no ability to make phone calls abroad. Only government sanctioned propaganda is allowed. This monopoly of information allows the Kim dynasty to prolong its brutal dictatorship, which runs on Stalin-style gulags, a pervasive political police, and the systematic torture, rape, and murder of civilians.

Given the unthinkable degree of repression suffered by North Koreans, one of the biggest challenges to North Korea’s dictatorship is the spread of credible outside information among the people. HRF’s Flash Drives for Freedom (FDFF) Campaign, launched in 2016, is aimed at feeding and growing North Korea’s black markets with outside information, and is the largest effort of its kind. As of February 2020, HRF has collected 90,000 flash drives and SD cards as in-kind donations from around the world. The drives, whose original contents are thoroughly erased, are uploaded with everything from Korean Wikipedia pages, to footage of political protests in South Korea and the U.S., to the latest Korean soap operas and romantic comedies. Providing a steady and growing flow of outside information will enable the North Korean people to experience a different reality – one where systematic violence, physical suffering, and intellectual oppression are not the norm.

Beyond smuggling information into North Korea, FDFF aims to educate the world about the brutal nature of North Korea’s communist regime. We recognize that international solidarity against authoritarianism is critical in overturning dictatorships and promoting individual freedoms.

Population(s) Served

HRF’s Hong Hong Desk, a new 2020 initiative, will raise China and Hong Kong’s government’s suppression of liberties to a supranational level by filing petitions and urgent appeals to UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures, produce research, reports, and advocacy to maintain international attention on the subject, and help hold perpetrators of human rights abuses in Hong Kong accountable.

HRF believes that Hong Kong is in a unique and important position to fight against the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party. We also believe that international advocacy is an important aspect of grassroots activism, and would like to lend our expertise in this area to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy cause.

Population(s) Served

Wear Your Values engages the fashion industry in the human rights movement through a series of events and exhibitions designed to educate consumers and to promote supply-chain transparency in countries ruled by dictatorial regimes.

We create collaborations between human rights activists and designers to promote messages of activism for women’s rights, transparency, and free expression. Wear Your Values uses fashion as a tool with which to draw attention to human rights concerns in closed societies, and aims to bridge the gap between the respective communities.

Example: BANNED – Garments, like words, are a powerful means of expressing ourselves. What we wear can reflect our culture, beliefs, political views, and values. Authoritarian leaders around the world have also understood the power of fashion. And just as they abuse the media, the courts, and electoral systems to manipulate public opinion and prolong their rule, authoritarians view fashion as yet another weapon in their arsenal for oppression. Simple items of clothing are banned by regimes that see them as threats, while others are imposed as a form of social control. But on the other hand, fashion is used by the people as a tool for expression, for protection, for nonviolent activism, and to galvanize human rights movements globally. This collection of garments, gathered from different regions of the world, highlights the role that fashion plays—as a powerful tool of both expression and oppression—and invites you to rethink the relationship between fashion, freedom and human rights.

Population(s) Served

The Art in Protest program is HRF’s answer to the repression of creativity that authoritarian regimes impose. Dictatorships are built on misinformation meant to confuse and pacify their populations. Art can provide a vehicle for protest that targets this deception at its core, through an emotional immediacy that penetrates deeper than official statements or demonstrations. Recognizing the transformative potential of art, HRF has established the first program to support dissident artists around the world. By giving these individuals a broader platform for their work, we can help them make a lasting impact in the global struggle against authoritarianism.

Since its inception, AIP has hosted events for diverse audiences in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oslo, showcasing artists from North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and China, connecting the art world and human rights activists. The goal of the program is to support and exhibit the work of artists from around the world who struggle to express themselves in the face of oppressive governments, to new audiences. In this way, Art in Protest aims to create a dialogue about the state of artistic expression on a global scale, and to shed light on those brave people who are willing to risk their lives in the pursuit of self-expression. Many of the artists’ works intentionally have a political content, but several have had their art politicized for the mere act of self-expression.

Population(s) Served

The Freedom Fellowship is a one-year program that awards human rights advocates, social entrepreneurs, and non-profit leaders from challenging political environments around the world with the unique opportunity to dramatically increase the impact of their work. During the program, the fellows work with a team of mentors to focus on the areas of activism, leadership, fundraising, technology, and communications.

We also partner donors with activists who are on the front lines challenging tyranny to offer microgrants. We track the impact investment and assist the activist to leverage the grant to its fullest.

Population(s) Served

As governments develop new systems of oppression that increasingly rely on technology, HRF is partnering with experts in cybersecurity and encryption to strengthen civil society organizations around the world. HRF’s Aegeas Program connects tech consultants with activists in authoritarian countries so that they can collaborate, educate, and share resources with each other in order to stay safe online and advance their human rights work.

HRF also partners with higher education institutions to further scholarship on activism and human rights. The Oslo Scholars Program connects speakers from the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) with college and university students for a summer internship. The speaker serves as a mentor encouraging their Oslo Scholar to learn about, and become involved with, the global struggle for freedom and democracy. HRF matches students with speakers based on their needs, interests, and expertise while the university funds the students’ work.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of high-profile speakers or participants participating

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Freedom Forum Conference Series

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Each year, we bring together the world’s most engaging human rights advocates, artists, tech entrepreneurs, and world leaders meet to to share their stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom.

Number of conference attendees

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of stories successfully placed in the media

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

985 articles written about HRF, OFF, and OFF speakers

Number of press releases developed and distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. HRF unites people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy. Our mission is to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted around the world.

We focus our work on the founding ideals of the human rights movement, those most purely represented in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

In order to accomplish this goal, we:
- We partner with world-changing activists. We defend, equip, and give a platform to human rights activists who are boldly changing their communities and countries.
- We create innovative solutions. We connect activists to industry leaders and develop modern solutions to combat the worst human rights violations.
- We activate millions of supporters. We amplify the impact of our activists by inspiring people around the world to participate in our initiatives.

Grounding our work in a deep commitment to individual liberty, HRF aims to raise awareness about both the nature and vulnerability of freedom around the world. Our programs provide education about what constitutes a free society, why freedom matters, and how freedom is nurtured, developed, and sustained. We aim to inform the broadest range of individuals possible—from leaders, experts, intellectuals, and the general public—about how best to promote freedom and tolerance in troubled regions of the globe. HRF's programs include a broad range of initiatives; such as successful campaigns to free political prisoners; on-the-ground education in closed societies; individual rights seminars on Capitol Hill; production of popular films and other media; authoritative legal analyses; and the organization and production of engaging, informative events around the world.

HRF is comprised of a talented workforce of 16. Our staff includes a legal team of five who are focused on education, policy work, legal analysis, and working closely with our media staff person to promote media campaigns to free political prisoners and bring attention to human rights issues worldwide. Our program staff of five work on special projects like our public education events such as the international Freedom Forum conference series, advocacy and awareness campaigns, on-the-ground aid and education programs in closed societies, and providing support and recognition to activists around the world. Our strategy team of four work with our senior executive team and executive support staff to publicize our efforts and raise the capital required to fund these efforts.

We focus on a variety of programs to meet our mission to preserve and promote freedom around the world:

- Advocacy Campaigns: HRF's advocacy campaigns raise awareness, build support, and achieve objectives for individual rights through a series of strategic, coordinated activities. These activities include media campaigns, meetings, open and private letters, op-eds, viral videos, press releases, legal reports, and amicus curiae briefs.

- Exposing Dictatorship: HRF exposes how dictators and their cronies employ public relations firms, celebrities, charitable foundations, and other institutions to burnish their reputations internationally. Through coordinated media campaigns, HRF sheds light on autocrats and their paid agents who work together to whitewash human rights violations.

- Conferences and Events: HRF regularly organizes conferences and events focused on a wide range of timely topics in the field of human rights. These events range from HRF's flagship conference—the Oslo Freedom Forum—to panel discussions, informational sessions on Capitol Hill, College Freedom Forums in the United States and abroad, guest lectures, and partner events.

- Center for Law and Democracy: The Human Rights Foundation Center for Law and Democracy (HRF-CLD) promotes legal scholarship in the areas of comparative constitutional law and international law, with a focus on international human rights law and international democracy law.

- On-the-ground Outreach: HRF conducts on-the-ground programs in countries around the world. By working directly with local civil society groups, HRF supplies educational human rights material, technology, food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid to activists and citizens.

- Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent: HRF presents the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent annually at the Oslo Freedom Forum. The award includes a grant and is awarded to activists who are peacefully and creatively struggling against dictatorship and tyranny.

We have accomplished a great deal in terms of successfully promoting the passage of legislation, successfully leading campaigns to free political prisoners, leading on-the-ground education projects in closed societies, and bringing resources and media attention to activists promoting freedom around the world.

While we are very proud of the work that we have done to promote human rights around the world, we recognize that as long as there are people living under repressive authoritarian governments, we still have work to do. With more than one third of the world's population living under authoritarian governments or dictatorships, there is much work to be done. We continue to expand the reach of our programs into new regions and countries. With our diverse and growing legal team, we now operate in Arabic, English, Cantonese, French, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, expanding our capacity to work in diverse regions.

Financials

HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION INC

Board of directors
as of 3/25/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Garry Kasparov

Kenneth Anderson

American University

Mart Laar

Former Prime Minister of Estonia, Leader of the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica Party

Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Independent Institute

Jacqueline Moudeina

Chadian Lawyer and Human Rights Activist

Park Sang-hak

Fighters for a Free North Korea

Mutabar Tadjibayeva

Fiery Hearts Club

Ron Jacobs

Venable LLP

Diego Arria

United Nations (Former Assistant Secretary General, Venezuelan Ambassador)

George Ayittey

Free Africa Foundation

Abdel Ould Ethmane

SOS Slaves

Alexander Lloyd

Accelerator Ventures

Amir Nasr

AssertiveU

Marina Nemat

Iranian Author, Former Prisoner of Conscience

W. Stephens

Blockchain Capital

Yeonmi Park

North Korean Defector, Casey & Yeonmi Show

Cameron Thomson

Good Ancestor, Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Open Source Ecology

Konstantina Yaneva

Democratic Decay and Renewal

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No