The Human Rights Foundation could be described as the baby of respected activist and news commentator Thor Halvorssen after he established the activism group in 2005 in a bid to make sure the needs of those living under the rule of tyrants were being addressed. Thor has been involved in campaigns with some of the world’s largest and best known human rights activism groups, including Amnesty International and the Foundation for Human Rights in education, but often feels too much emphasis is now placed on fighting small human rights abuses seen in countries with a long tradition of democracy.
The Human Rights Foundation was founded with a mission to tackle the problems of some of those living and working under the harshest human rights restrictions, which has seen the group look to curate major events addressing these issues. Among the major events orchestrated by Thor Halvorssen for the Human Rights Foundation was the creation of the organization’s International Council in 2006, which saw the Czech writer and political dissident Vaclav Havel to the position of chairperson that he held until his 2011 death; the strong position and events focused on the human rights abuses in Russia have resulted in the appointment of Russian political activist Gary Kasparov as the latest Chair of the HRF International Council. Both Halvorssen and Kasparov have appeared on a range of news networks pushing forward the work of the Human Rights Foundation to audiences from across the political spectrum.
The centerpiece of the human rights community calendar is now the HRF curated Oslo Freedom Forum that is dedicated to bringing together the most important people in the human rights activism community with potential sponsors and supporters from technology backgrounds and the entertainment industry. Held in the same Norwegian hotel as the Nobel Peace Prize, this important annual event also looks to bring new people to the human rights community by using live streaming of speeches and discussions to the Internet to allow as many people as possible to build awareness of an issue not often reported in the mainstream news.