President launches initiative for human rights defenders around the world

Human rights – Launch of the Marianne initiative for human rights defenders around the world

Paris, 10 December 2021

On international Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in an international environment which increasingly threatens these rights daily, the French President wanted to implement a new initiative aimed at strengthening France’s action to support those defending them, abroad as well as in France.

The Marianne initiative for human rights defenders was therefore launched at the Elysée Palace on 10 December 2021, in the presence of all the partners who contributed to it: the State, voluntary organizations and NGOs, foundations, local authorities and other stakeholders invested in this vital cause for democracy. While a great deal has already been accomplished by these partners to promote human rights, the goal is to do more and better, by increasing resources and working more collectively. This is the whole purpose of the initiative, which has three aims.

The initiative’s international pillar will support on the ground those committed in their countries to defending fundamental rights and civil liberties. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, through its diplomatic network, the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects, and the partnership established with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Human Rights Platform will support civil society organizations and human rights defenders to make them more effective, visible and protected in order to increase their impact.

The initiative’s second pillar will help human rights defenders in France, a land of hospitality and refuge. Every year, an independent selection committee will single out 15 or so foreign laureates representing various regions of the world and types of battle fought: civil and political rights; fighting violence; women’s, children’s and LGBTQI+ rights; economic, social and environmental rights etc. The first cohort will be convened at the beginning of 2022. It will be made up entirely of women, consistent with France’s feminist diplomacy.

The laureates will receive personal support within a place of exchange and training, open to all champions of the human rights cause, which will also be a means of promoting the coordination and complementary nature of existing tools in France and Europe in this sphere, especially the Collège de France’s PAUSE programme, the Paris Bar’s Répit programme, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) scholarships, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) programme, the emergency fund managed by the French voluntary organization Act Together for Human Rights (AEDH), the [International] Cities of Refuge Network, the European mechanism etc.

Finally, the third pillar of this initiative will make France’s action more effective and coherent by federating those involved within the Marianne voluntary organization for human rights defenders. This organization will be fully responsible for the initiative’s domestic pillar, assisted initially by the Inter-ministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees (Diair).

The initiative is wholly consistent with France’s Human Rights and Development strategy adopted three years ago to the day, and fully addresses the priorities promoted by France at the Human Rights Council, particularly as an elected member for the period 2021-2023.

The French President also welcomes existing prizes recognizing the action accomplished by human rights defenders, in particular the French Republic Prize, awarded by the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights and the Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Prize. It is through the collective work of all the partners and a spirit of cooperation and commitment that France remains true to its tradition as a country of human rights./.

Published on 14/12/2021

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