Open main menu

Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy is an annual human rights summit sponsored by a coalition of 20 non-governmental organizations.[1] Each year, on the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council's main annual session, activists from around the world meet to raise international awareness of human rights situations.[2]




The first summit took place on Sunday, April 19, 2009, prior to the United Nations Durban Review Conference.[3] Speakers included, among others, Iranian activist Nazanin Afshin Jam;[4] Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim;[4] American human rights activist Ellen Bork;[4] Gibreil Hamid of Darfur, Sudan;[4] Soe Aung of Burma;[4] Marlon Zakeyo of Zimbabwe;[4] Cuban opposition activist and former political prisoner José Gabriel Ramón Castillo;[4] and Venezuelan activist Gonzalo Himiob Santome.[4]


The 2010 summit took place on Monday, March 8, 2010.[5] Speakers included, among others, Massouda Jalal, former Afghan Minister of Women's Affairs;[6] exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer;[6] Bob Boorstin, Google's policy director;[7] Caspian Makan, fiancé of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha Soltan;[7] Cuban dissident José Gabriel Ramón Castillo;[7] and Bo Kyi of Burma, a former political prisoner and secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.[7]


The 2011 summit took place on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.[8] Speakers included, among others, Ugandan LGBT rights activist Jacqueline Kasha;[7] Cuban dissident Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia;[7] Guang-il Jung, a North Korean labor camp escapee;[7] Turkmenistani activist Farid Tukhbatullin;[7] North Korean activist Cheong Kwang Il;[9] and Libyan dissident Mohamed Eljahmi;[10]


The 2012 summit took place on Tuesday, March 13, 2012.[11] Speakers included, among others, Chinese dissidents Yang Jianli and Ren Wanding;[12] Cuban activist Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina;[12] Zimbabwean activist Jestina Mukoko;[12] Burmese activist Zoya Phan;[12] former Egyptian political prisoner Maikel Nabil;[12] North Korean defectors Joo-il Kim and Song Ju Kim;[12] Iranian activist Ebrahim Mehtari;[12] and Syrian activist Hadeel Kouki.[12]


The 2013 summit took place on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.[13] Speakers included, among others, Pakistani women's rights activist Mukhtar Mai;[14] Moroccan writer and atheist Kacem El Ghazzali;[15] Tibetan politician Dicki Chhoyang;[16] Syrian activist Randa Kassis;[16] former Cuban political prisoner Régis Iglesias;[16] Iranian dissident Marina Nemat;[17] Pyotr Verzilov, husband of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova;[17] and Kazakh journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov.[17]


The 2014 summit took place on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.[18] Speakers included, among others, Mauritanian anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid;[19] Tibetan MP Tenzin Dhardon Sharling;[20] Chinese political dissident Yang Jianli;[20] Canadian MP and human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler;[21] North Korean human rights activist Ahn Myong Chul;[22] Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini;[23] and the aunt of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López.[22]

The summit's Courage Award was given to Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was the keynote speaker.[22]


The 2015 summit took place on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.[24] Speakers included, among others, Park Yeon-mi, a North Korean defector and human rights activist;[25] Lim Il, a North Korean defector and former slave laborer;[25] a Nigerian teenager, identified simply as "Saa", who escaped after being abducted by Boko Haram;[26][27] Hong Kong protest leaders Alex Chow and Lester Shum;[28] Pierre Torres, a French journalist who was held hostage by ISIS for ten months;[29][30] Ukrainian protest leader Mustafa Nayyem;[30] Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng;[30] Turkish journalist Yavuz Baydar;[31] Moroccan politician Fouzia Elbayed;[32] and Tibetan politician Dicki Chhoyang.[33]

The summit's Courage Award was given to Raif Badawi, an imprisoned Saudi Arabian writer and activist,[34] and accepted on his behalf by Elham Manea, Professor at the University of Zurich.[35] The Women's Rights Award was given to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and the founder of My Stealthy Freedom.[1]


The 2016 summit took place on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. Speakers included, among others, Ensaf Haidar, wife of jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi; Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada 2015 and an advocate for human rights in China; Vian Dakhil, Iraqi politician and ISIS victim's advocate; Svitlana Zalishchuk, a Ukrainian politician and key figure in the Euromaidan movement of 2013; Darya Safai, a Belgian-Iranian women's rights advocate; Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish human rights advocate; Lee Young-guk, a former bodyguard of Kim Jong-il who defected to South Korea; Polina Nemirovskaia, Russian human rights activist; David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland; and Chinese dissident Yang Jianli.[36]

The summit's Courage Award was given to jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo López. Relatives of the two men accepted the award on their behalf.[36]


The 2017 summit took place on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Speakers included Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch; Irwin Cotler, chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights; Jakub Klepal, executive director of Forum 2000; Can Dündar, exiled Turkish journalist; Zhanna Nemtsova, Russian journalist and activist; Anastasia Zotova, Russian activist and wife of Ildar Dadin; Antonietta Ledezma, daughter of imprisoned Venezuelan politician Antonio Ledezma; Chito Gascon, Filipino activist; Taghi Rahmani, Iranian journalist and husband of Narges Mohammadi; Alfred H. Moses, chair of UN Watch; El Sexto, Cuban graffiti artist and activist; Nyima Lhamo, exiled Tibetan activist and niece of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche; Biram Dah Abeid, Mauritanian anti-slavery activist; Astrid Thors, Finnish politician; Mohamed Nasheed, Maldivian activist; Medard Mulangala, DRC opposition leader; James Jones, documentary filmmaker; Kim Kwang-jin, North Korean defector; and Đặng Xuân Diệu, Vietnamese human rights activist.[37]

The 2017 Women's Rights Award was given to "Shirin", a Yazidi woman who escaped sexual slavery in the Islamic State, and author of I Remain a Daughter of the Light (Ich bleibe eine Tocher des Lichts), recently published in Germany.[37][38]



  1. ^ a b Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (24 February 2015). "Iranian woman wins rights award for hijab campaign". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "About us". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
  3. ^ "Program, Sunday, April 19, 2009". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Directorio at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy". Directorio. 19 April 2009. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  5. ^ "Program, Monday, March 08, 2010". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.
  6. ^ a b "Shadow Summit In Geneva Focusing On Neglected Rights Issues". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 8 March 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dissidents, Ex-Political Prisoners Organizing Geneva Summit to Urge Help from UN Rights Council". Viet Tan. 14 February 2011.
  8. ^ "Program, Tuesday, March 15, 2011". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Kyoung, Kwon Eun (17 March 2011). "Prison Camp Investigation Needed". Daily NK.
  10. ^ "Libya revolt as it happened: Friday". BBC News. 4 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Program, Tuesday, March 13, 2012". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Gross, Tom (16 March 2012). "The true face of 'human rights' at the UN". The National Post.
  13. ^ "Program, Tuesday, February 19, 2013". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.
  14. ^ Davies, Catriona (21 February 2013). "Gang rape victim fights back for girls' education". CNN.
  15. ^ Kirchick, James (29 March 2013). "Exiled After Threats: Blogger Wants More Freedoms in Morocco". Spiegel Online.
  16. ^ a b c "Kalon Dicki Chhoyang addresses Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy". 20 February 2013. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  17. ^ a b c "Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakh Activists Attend Human Rights Summit In Geneva". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 19 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Program, Tuesday, February 25, 2014". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.
  19. ^ "Haratin: Biram Dah Abeid Talks At Geneva Summit For Human Rights And Democracy". UNPO. 27 February 2014.
  20. ^ a b "Interview: Tibetan Parliamentarian attends Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy". Tibet.Net. Central Tibetan Administration. 28 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Conservative MP under fire for barring Liberal MP from attending charity event in Israel". CTV News. 25 February 2014.
  22. ^ a b c "Chinese Dissident Chen Given Award At Human Rights Conference In Geneva". 25 February 2014.
  23. ^ Goodenough, Patrick (27 February 2014). "Activists Point an Accusing Finger at Members of U.N. Human Rights Council". CNSNews.
  24. ^ "Program, Tuesday, February 24 2015". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.
  25. ^ a b Shim, Elizabeth (25 February 2015). "Defector: North Korean slave labor system earns regime billions". UPI.
  26. ^ ""I escaped Boko Haram" – A Nigerian girl who was kidnapped with 270 others ("Bring Back Our Girls")". 25 February 2015.
  27. ^ Maurisse, Marie (24 February 2015). "How I escaped Boko Haram". Le Monde.
  28. ^ Tsang, Emily (26 February 2015). "Keep up pressure for democracy in Hong Kong, student leaders tell world summit". South China Morning Post.
  29. ^ "I was held captive by ISIS" - Pierre Torres interviewed by Tom Gross". 25 February 2015.
  30. ^ a b c Timm, Leo (11 February 2015). "Hong Kong Protest Leaders To Attend Human Rights Summit in Geneva". The Epoch Times.
  31. ^ "Veteran journalist: Media in Turkey crippled due to self-censorship". Today's Zaman. 27 February 2015.
  32. ^ Basu, Rekha (25 February 2015). "A courageous push for rights in Muslim world". The Des Moines Register.
  33. ^ Cook, Jane (26 February 2015). "DIIR Kalon: Tibet stands as a symbol of non-violent struggle for freedom". Tibet Post International.
  34. ^ Hayden, Sally (24 February 2015). "Imprisoned Saudi Arabian Blogger Raif Badawi Gets Geneva Summit's 'Courage' Award". Vice News.
  35. ^ Manea, Elham (26 February 2015). "'We Stand United in Our Humanity'". The World Post.
  36. ^ a b "Jailed Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Antonio Ledezma & Leopoldo Lopez Win 2016 Courage Award from 25 NGOs at Geneva Summit Held at UN".
  37. ^ a b "9th Annual Geneva Summit".
  38. ^ "In an age of autocracy, meet the dissidents speaking truth to power". The Guardian. February 22, 2017.
  39. ^ "Partners". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

External linksEdit