Why a Human Rights Litigation Foundation?

The world is currently facing a global human rights crisis and is confronted with tremendous challenges. Human rights violations and abuses are on the rise in every region of the world: arbitrary detention and intimidation of opposition leaders in Venezuela; domestic violence in India; arbitrary detention and intimidation of lawyers and activists in China; death sentences carried out after unfair trials in Iran; excessive use of force by security forces in Egypt; killings, torture, enforced disappearances and mass arbitrary arrests in Burundi; abusive homophobic laws and attacks on LGBTs in Russia; increasing human rights violations in Turkey since the attempted coup last July; inadequate material conditions in immigration detention centres and ill-treatment of asylum seekers in Bulgaria; police violence towards prisoners, ethnic minorities and asylum seekers in various European States; arbitrary child detention in Greece and Hungary; arbitrary detention of asylum seekers in Belgium and in the Netherlands,… This list unfortunately goes on and on.

Let us also not forget the dangerous rise of populist leaders in the world, which constitutes a serious threat to human rights.

In addition to this overall context, there is something more at stake today, which may be of even greater importance as it risks having dramatic repercussions. The whole human rights based system, and international law itself, is indeed under attack by States themselves. Whereas they are precisely supposed to preserve this heritage so dearly acquired in order to protect their people, some of them are instead threatening to break it apart. African States Parties to the International Criminal Court have threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute. States have already withdrawn from the Inter-American Commission and from the Inter-American Court of human rights. Ruling parties in European countries have openly attacked the European Court of Human Rights and have discussed withdrawals from the Convention. Some States are also threatening to leave the United Nations.

In these critical times, we believe it is of paramount importance to reaffirm the fundamental principals contained in international and regional human rights law and to defend them vigorously. This is precisely what we intend to do. Victims around the world are indeed in need of more justice, not less. Now is not the time to weaken the human rights system but to strengthen it. These considerations will necessarily be at the core of our efforts and hard work through which we intend to contribute to the promotion and to the effective use of human rights law.

The idea to create the Human Rights Litigation Foundation was based on this overall assessment, but also on two key observations.

Firstly,

Victims of gross human rights violations are mostly vulnerable groups of people (such as children, asylum seekers, ethnic minorities, detainees, LGBTs, etc.) that are often confronted to multiple barriers in accessing justice (lack of financial means, lack of expertise, tolerance of national jurisdictions, political pressures, …) which render in practice this fundamental right illusory. As a result, violations remain unpunished and victims rarely obtain redress.

Secondly,

these human rights violations are often due to structural problems within the State, which engender a high number of actual as well as potential victims. However, human rights litigation is currently mainly individual and no effective strategic action is taken in order to tackle those structural deficiencies.

With this in mind, the Human Rights Litigation Foundation was established on the 31st of January 2017 as a non-profit organisation entirely dedicated to the promotion of strategic litigation in the area of human rights.

Specific Objectives

  • Raise funds through donations, sponsoring, and crowdfunding for the promotion of human rights litigation at national and international levels;
  • Make use of the UN reporting mechanisms to assist vulnerable people worldwide placed in situations of extreme distress;
  • Make use of strategic litigation as an advocacy strategy;
  • Promote access to justice for victims of gross human rights violations deprived of sufficient financial means to assume the cost of their defence;
  • Conduct human rights strategic litigation before the European Court of Human Rights and promote compliance with the judgments handed down by this Court;
  • Financially and/or technically support human rights litigations conducted by dedicated human rights lawyers and NGOs;
  • Promote access to justice for the most vulnerable;
  • Promote sharing of expertise between the different human rights actors in Europe and worldwide through the constitution of a human rights experts’ network.

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Our Projects

The United Nations... NEEDED €70,000

I. Programme’s approach While the European Strategic Litigation Programm...

The European Strat... NEEDED €

The European Strategic Litigation Programme will follow a global strategic ...

The European Litig... NEEDED €

I. Programme’s approach The European Litigation Funding Programme will f...

The Fundraising an... NEEDED €

The HRL Foundation will organise several fundraising and crowdfunding activ...

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  • Kofi Annan,

    Peace can only last where human right are respected, where the people are fed, where individuals and nations are free

  • Barack Obama,

    Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time, We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

  • Aung San,

    Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day

  • Emma Thompson,

    If you don't want women to do whatever they need to do then you must provide them with food, you must provide them with shelter and their basic human rights.

  • Mahatma Gandhi,

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.