“Our drive and our inspiration is the human rights defenders we help, it’s a huge honour to work with some of the people we work with: inspirational figures who continue to work in very hostile environments in spite of the great risks they face,” said Andrew Anderson, the Executive Director of Front Line Defenders.
He added that the organization was honoured and “a little bit shocked” to receive the 2018 UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
“The Prize is not about us as an organization it is about the human rights defender on whose behalf we work,” Anderson said. “It’s particularly nice that it come on the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and at a time when the level of risks and challenges that human rights defenders face have never been greater.”
Front Line Defenders, also known as the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, is a human rights organization founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 2001, to protect human rights defenders at risk.
The organization works to protect the protection needs identified by defenders themselves and to enable them to continue to work without the risk of harassment, intimidation and arrest.
For Anderson, the international community needs to play a bigger role in holding Governments to account for the promise they made to allow those who advocate peacefully for human rights to work in a safe environment.
“That needs to include stronger measures against Governments who commit reprisals against human rights defenders for engaging with the UN system, for example,” he added.
“But it also means trying to strengthen the practical support for human rights defenders at risk: improved protection mechanisms, improved investigation of threats against human rights defenders, making sure that those of threaten or attack human rights defenders are brought to justice,” Anderson said.
The Human Rights Prize is an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. Over 300 nominations were received for this year’s Prize from a broad variety of sources including UN Member States, UN organizations and civil society.