Human Rights Defenders Academy 2015

Location: Brussels (Belgium)
Date: 20-23 October 2015
Deadline for early registration discount: 1 May 2015

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Human Rights Defenders Academy 2015

Aims of the Human Rights Defenders Academy

HREA’s Human Rights Defenders Academy is a training program for individuals working to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world through peaceful means. Human rights defenders are those individuals, groups and organs of society that promote and protect universally-recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. They seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion, protection and attainment of economic, social and cultural rights. They advocate and mobilise by peaceful means – sometimes putting their own lives at risk – to defend the rights of others. Participants of the Academy have the opportunity to increase their monitoring and advocacy skills, further their understanding of the role and impact of EU foreign policies related to human rights defenders and how advocacy vis-à-vis the EU can positively influence human rights policies in their home countries, learn practical skills to ensure their own personal security and protection, and build networks and exchange knowledge and experience with other human rights defenders.

Programme overview and methodology

The Human Rights Defenders Academy (HRDA) consists of a series of intensive workshops on advocacy, monitoring and personal security and protection, meetings with Brussels-based resource persons and organisations, and site visits to European institutions.

The training is based on a participatory, active learning approach, and has an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Workshops are held from 09h00-14h30 during the day. In the late afternoons and evenings, participants have the opportunity to meet with resource persons and organisations, visit European Institutions in Brussels and learn about EU foreign policy, advocacy and funding opportunities to support human rights defenders.

Programme format

9h00-14h30 Intensive workshops with HRDA trainers and resource persons at the mundo-b training centre
Day 1: Role of human rights defenders, access to information, freedom of assembly and expression, human rights standards and mechanisms
Day 2: Human rights monitoring, fact-finding and reporting
Day 3: Human rights advocacy, particularly aimed at EU institutions
Day 4: Personal security and protection, including module(s) on gender-specific risks
15h00- 18h00 Visits to EU institutions, including European Parliament, European Commission, and Brussels-based civil society organisations

Please note that this is a tentative schedule. A final agenda will be available closer to the date of the training and will reflect the specific needs and experiences of the participants.

Participant profile

The Human Rights Defenders Academy is open to staff and volunteers of human rights organisations, representatives of national human rights institutions, other individuals working to promote and protect human rights through peaceful means, including journalists, lawyers, pro-democracy activists and trade unionists, as well as individuals responsible for upholding human rights, such as law enforcement and members of the judiciary and civil service.


Fiona Ang is the Director of the Flemish Organisation for Human Rights Education (VORMEN). She previously served as part of an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Louvain on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has worked as a Child Rights Officer and International Programmes Officer at UNICEF Belgium. Prior to that, she interned at the United Nations and at Amnesty International in Geneva, Brussels and Jakarta. Her areas of expertise include children’s rights, human rights education and pedagogy. Ms. Ang regularly conducts training workshops for teachers, NGO staff, policy makers and law enforcement officials.

Brigitte Doufour is a human rights lawyer and Director of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). She holds diplomas in Law and in Linguistics and Russian Studies from the University of Montréal (Canada) and is a member of the Québec Bar (Canada). Through her work with the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Ms. Doufour led a range of international human rights projects and carried out numerous missions in the field with local human rights advocates in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Ms. Doufour has extensive experience in international advocacy, having represented human rights groups before UN bodies, the Council of Europe, EU institutions and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and has contributed to numerous human rights publications.

Frank Elbers is Executive Director of Human Rights Education Associates (HREA). He has 25 years of experience in development and human rights in post-communist Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Elbers joined HREA in 1998 and has been an instructor and trainer for courses and workshops on human rights-based programming, monitoring children’s rights and monitoring women’s human rights. Mr. Elbers also served as a consultant for the UNIFEM on strategies for violence against women, implementation of CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women), and the Beijing +5 review process. He was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) for the course on Gender and Humanitarian Action: Different Needs, Equal Opportunities. Mr. Elbers holds an MA in political science from the University of Amsterdam.

Arjan van der Waal is Programme Director at Protection International. Protection International researches strategies and tactics for the protection of human rights defenders. Mr. van der Waal has worked for governmental institutions (European Commission), a UN agency, international civil society and local organisations. He previously coordinated Amnesty International’s activities with human rights defenders in Sub-Sahara Africa. In his current position as Programme Director at PI he supports teams and partners in Asia and Africa. PI’s down-to-earth way of dealing with risk suits the realities of ordinary citizens, community leaders, and human rights organisations, big and small.


Tuition cost: € 595 (non-residential) early-bird rate; € 695 (non-residential) after 1 April 2015. Tuition includes the 4-day training program, lunches and coffee breaks, a training pack with hard copies of the training materials, access to the Human Rights Defenders Academy 2015 virtual learning space, and a course certificate upon successful completion of the program. There is a limited number of (partial) scholarships available through HREA’s Scholarship Fund.

The Human Rights Defenders Academy 2015 is limited to 25 participants; participants are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis and payment is due at the time of registration. Registration and payment does not include accommodation. Participants are expected to arrange their own accommodation as well as their own travel insurance and visas (as relevant) for travel to Belgium.

Register for the Human Rights Defenders Academy 2015 (opens in a new window)

A limited number of scholarships will be awarded to human rights defenders from low-income countries attending the Human Rights Defenders Academy. Please refer to the Application Form for instructions on how to apply. Please note that scholarship funding is limited and will be awarded at HREA’s discretion according to need, merit and availability. Scholarship funding is only available to support tuition costs. Funding is not available to support travel, visa or accommodation costs. For an overview of other possible funding/scholarship opportunities, please visit our scholarship opportunities page.


HREA seeks to ensure training programs are fully accessible for persons with disabilities and that everyone is able to participate on an equal basis with others. Please contact the HREA Training Coordinator ( with any questions or concerns about accessibility including the specific forms of reasonable accommodation you require.


The Human Rights Defenders Academy is a non-residential training program. Participants are responsible for organising their own accommodation in Brussels.

More Information

For enquiries, please e-mail

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