Strategy for the NHRF 2021-2025

Our mandate

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund’s mandate is to protect and promote human rights internationally by being a flexible and courageous actor that provides support to local and front line organisations and movements.

Our goal

Our goal is that marginalised and vulnerable individuals and other groups who experience human rights violations and injustices are able to claim their rights and have them fulfilled.

We believe

Civil society and human rights organisations have a role in the promotion of sustainable and peaceful societies. We believe that support to human rights defenders and human rights work will lead to mobilization on the ground and the creation of robust, secure and resilient movements that can influence positive change.

The context from where we stand

The current reality for human rights is their continued and, in some areas, rapid erosion by a global backlash against human rights that threatens many hardwon victories. This backlash, the result of extreme polarization and rising authoritarianism in many countries, is paving the way for opportunistic actors to take advantage of the global pandemic to further curtail legitimate human rights work and suppress those who defend them. Fortunately, strong civil societies and human rights defenders across the globe and some leading States continue to push for human rights and to build on the progress made. Another concern is that despite the persisting and increasing human rights challenges we have witnessed during the last decade, financial support to human rights work in many parts of the world is diminishing as a result of changing political priorities, shifting donor priorities, and State budget cuts or shifts, and now further decreased funding due to COVID-19 – an unfortunate consequence as the pandemic has only increased needs for resources on the ground.

The NHRF recognizes that full, equal, and meaningful implementation of the vast human rights and other relevant frameworks continues to be essential in order to reach equality and a sustainable future for all. We also understand that there is a need to make human rights tangible and relevant on a personal and community level, beyond the frameworks which are often opaque and inaccessible. And we know that grassroots organisations, social movements and their allies can bridge the realms of advocacy and social mobilization.

Key strategies for reaching our goals

The NHRF has identified the following three key strategies to reach its objectives and goals:

1. Direct financial support for human rights work

2. Networking and capacity building

3. Communications, advocacy and strategic alliance building

1. Direct financial support to human rights work

The NHRF will direct its financial support to human rights work within the following interlinked thematic areas:

• Fight against impunity and for access to justice

• Dismantling discrimination, inequality and marginalisation

• Protecting human rights defenders and the right to defend rights

We will support:

✓ Victims/survivors of human rights violations in conflict and post-conflict settings; marginalised and vulnerable groups, including indigenous communities, minorities (e.g. religious, ethnic, racial) HRDs, women, LGBTIQ, persons with disabilities, workers,
migrants, youth, and Dalits and others experiencing caste- based discrimination

✓ Human Rights Defenders who identify as or who are defending the human rights of marginalised communities, LGBTIQ, women, persons with disabilities, indigenous, and environmental Human Rights Defenders

✓ Projects in our priority countries: Colombia, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand

✓ Projects working in the thematic area of “protecting human rights defenders and the right to defend rights” outside our priority countries and projects forwarded by donors and members can also be supported

✓ Women-led organisations

✓ Organisations with diverse and equitable leadership that have representation of target groups in decision-making positions

✓ A variety of methods including but not limited to: local mobilization, monitoring and documentation, legal empowerment, legal aid and tools for access to justice, networking, leadership development, and others.

2. Networking and capacity building

The NHRF will support grantee partners beyond financial support with added value actions. Priorities for networking and capacity building will be developed in close dialogue with our partners and feedback from the human rights defenders we support.

We will:

✓ Directly link grantees and local defenders with other networks, institutions and actors for visibility, increased protection and to enhance their work (e.g. embassies and diplomatic missions)

✓ Provide tools and resources to strengthen grantee partners’ financial and administrative management, security, safeguarding, organisational development and other capacities

✓ Engage in innovative, responsive and critical initiatives and events to connect grantee partners and/or amplify their work and priorities

3. Advocacy, communication and strategic alliance building

Many NHRF grantee partners express a need for more solidarity, advocacy support and strategic communications support. In this strategy period, the NHRF will explore and take advocacy opportunities connected to strategic actors within and outside our networks.

We will:

✓ Utilize our networks and links with policymakers to support and develop innovative initiatives for increasing security for HRDs and their ability to defend rights.

✓ Conduct sensitive and effective advocacy for the protection of HRDs and to promote respect for and enabling of the role of HRDs in society and the right to defend rights.

✓ Work with Norway, likeminded countries and the UN on issues related to the situation of HRDs and our thematic priorities that are addressed by the Human Rights Council, General Assembly and the UN Security Council

✓ Design advocacy efforts to increase visibility of the thematic issues supported by the NHRF and specifically on the situation for HRDs

✓ Work to communicate and create empathy and solidarity for HRDs among people who do not normally engage in human rights work

✓ Explore partnerships with other organisations and media outlets to fight hate speech and detect false and negative narratives about HRDs

NHRF's organisational priorities

The NHRF has an ambition to grow and expand our ability to support front line human rights work during this crucial time and to further develop our role as a flexible, courageous and pioneering human rights actor and grantmaker. In the next strategy period, we will:

✓ Mobilise and increase financial resources from diverse sources to enable growth in programmatic work, staff and local presence

✓ Strengthen communication infrastructure and advocacy work

✓ Advance our accountability framework with more inclusive, participatory initiatives and support

✓ Advance monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL)

By prioritizing these activities, the NHRF will fulfil its organisational aims to be an ambitious, sustainable, and compassionate human rights organisation with the fortitude to support people in the front lines of defense for human rights.