Global Activists Call for Human Rights Action

January 19, 2024

As global leaders gathered in Davos for the 2024 World Economic Forum to address the world’s most complex geopolitical challenges, we are reminded of the power of convening. 

Around the world democracy and fundamental freedoms are under threat, undermining essential human rights. By bringing together activists and key stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, Counterpart acts as a catalyst for change by fostering global partnerships and collaboration.  

That’s why Counterpart, along with Alliance for Vietnam’s Democracy and the Global Democracy Coalition—which we coordinate with International IDEA—hosted a series of panel discussions last month in celebration of Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(Left to right) Kourtney Pompi, Counterpart’s acting senior director of governance, moderated the first panel highlighting regional perspectives alongside panelists Dalia Ziada of Liberal Democracy Institute, and Willice Onyango of The Youth Cafe, at Counterpart’s DC office.

The three panels brought together human rights defenders and activists from around the world to share experiences, challenges, and opportunities in safeguarding human rights, justice, and democracy. The panelists made strong calls to action to fight against rising authoritarianism, closing civic spaces, corruption, and social media misinformation. 

“It was humbling to hear their stories and we are inspired by their calls to action,” said Kourtney Pompi, Counterpart’s acting senior director of governance. “We cannot sit idly by.”  

The first panel highlighted regional perspectives representing Kenya, Egypt, Colombia, and India, on the impact that human rights defenders have on protecting civic space. Moderated by Pompi, the speakers included Willice Onyango of The Youth Cafe, Dalia Ziada of Liberal Democracy Institute, Gina Romero of Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia, and Shelly Mahajan of ADR India & MyNeta. 

Counterpart president and CEO Ann Hudock gave closing remarks following the three panel discussions.

Diving into sustainable civic spaces to promote human rights and resilient communities in Asia, the second panel featured remarks from Dr. Jianli Yang of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, Dolkun Isa of World Uyghur Congress, Celito Arlegue of Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, Dr. David Tran of Alliance for Vietnam’s Democracy, and Anna Kwok of Hong Kong Democracy Council. Linh Nyugen of the Vietnam Democracy Center moderated the panel. 

Dr. Bryan Sims of Humanity United, Jordan Long of The Carter Center, and Nader Nadery of The Wilson Center joined moderator Rosarie Tucci of USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance for the third panel to discuss global perspectives on opportunities for supporting human rights and bolstering democratic spaces. 

The three panels brought together human rights defenders and activists from around the world to share experiences and call for action.

The activists who spoke during the panels expressed with openness and candor both their progress and their struggles in defending human rights in their countries. In her closing remarks, Counterpart president and CEO Ann Hudock reflected on the importance of the convening in sharing experiences, strengthening bonds, and working together towards common goals.  

“We are in a globally connected world where vibrant and inclusive communities are necessary to ensure basic needs such as food security are met; where environmentally sustainable development practices take root; and, where healthy citizens, including dynamic women leaders, organize as civil society to hold government to account, protect human rights, and foster constructive public dialogue,” Hudock said.

In 2024, we will continue to convene democracy and human rights actors with the Global Democracy Coalition, a multi-stakeholder coalition comprised of more than 100 democracy organizations worldwide.