The Rights Brotherhood

France, Germany institute an award to honour those who fight for individual freedoms.

Written by Frank Walter Steinmeier , Jean Marc Ayrault | Published:December 2, 2016 2:22 am

This week, France and Germany will be honouring brave women and men who are fighting for the rights of others throughout the world. Maria da Penha from Brazil has used a wheelchair since being attacked by her husband in the 1970s, and now campaigns tirelessly for the protection of women against domestic violence. Sunitha Krishnan from India is fighting forced prostitution and human trafficking in her country, where many young women — and even girls — are still caught up in systemic prostitution. Jacqueline Moudeïna from Chad has been fighting for over 15 years to bring Hissène Habré to justice for atrocities committed during his presidency. Before the Syrian conflict, Raed al-Saleh was a businessman who sold electrical equipment; he is now the head of Syria’s White Helmets, a group of volunteers who are risking their own lives to help to rescue people following air strikes and to rebuild destroyed infrastructure. All these individuals have something in common: Wherever they come from, whatever they have been through, they are dedicating their lives to others.

To pay tribute to the inspiring engagement of these brave women and men, the two countries have decided to establish the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. This week, we will award the prize for the first time. We will honour women and men who are showing great dedication in standing up for the rights of their fellow human beings. They often do so at significant personal risk and under difficult conditions. They deserve our thanks and support.

Protecting and promoting human rights is at the core of French and German foreign policy endeavours. Human rights constitute the foundation of peace and justice in our world. This is why we, as the international community, pledged to protect and promote these rights following the world wars, undertaking to do so within the framework of the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Yet we now need to ensure that this great achievement is not called into question. We see the danger of erosion — in a world where an increasing number of governments are restricting public and individual freedoms in the name of security, political stability or cultural idiosyncrasies. We also see this happening in democracies, where journalists, lawyers and members of NGOs are being arrested, where people are tempted to build walls, even though history has taught us that walls never solve anything.

On our many joint trips, we have both seen up close what it means when people are denied their fundamental rights. That is why we are taking resolute action — using the entire spectrum of foreign policy instruments available, from supporting local human rights defenders to strengthening democratic governance, from crisis prevention to post-conflict peacebuilding. As foreign ministers, we will continue to work tirelessly every day, not only to break the silence but also to act effectively to prevent the violation of people’s fundamental freedoms. The fight for human rights must be conducted together and at all levels. The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law reflects this.

On the basis of joint proposals from German and French missions abroad, this year’s Prize will be awarded to: Tahmina Rahman (Bangladesh), Aleh Hulak (Belarus), Maria da Penha (Brazil), Thun Saray (Cambodia), Maximilienne Ngo Mbe (Cameroun), Beverley K. Jacobs (Canada), Jacqueline Moudeïna (Chad), Wang Qiaoling (China), Montserrat Solano Carboni (Costa Rica), Sunitha Krishnan (India), Mary Lawlor (Ireland), Pietro Bartolo (Italy), Eva Abu Halaweh (Jordan), Sarah Belal (Pakistan), Valentina Cherevatenko (Russia), and the White Helmets (Syria).

Steinmeier is minister for foreign affairs, Germany and Ayrault is minister of foreign affairs, France.

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  1. K
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:28 pm
    Honouring great personalities us welcome step
  2. a
    Dec 2, 2016 at 7:43 am
    Here comes the White Man again - preaching to the world, while at the same time ignoring their preachings in their own home - WE PREACH, YOU PRACTICE. Cases in point: (1) EU law guarantees a person the right to apply for asylum when this person is on EU soil. The fences in Hungary, however, guarantee that this law cannot be put into practice. (2) Human Rights also mean that no person can be sentenced until proven guilty. However, civilians are being cowardly killed by drones in Afghanistan, Syria, etc in the name of War Against Terror. Oddly, the EU prohibits the death;br/gt;Finally, the problems being faced by the people in the countries mentioned in the article are a direct result of Western politics and intervention. Be it in Africa, Gulf or S. America.
  3. N
    Narhar Joshi
    Dec 2, 2016 at 4:12 am
    I think it would be better for Germany and France reward each other for "m deaths in name of democracy and individual rights"(Libya,Syria,Iraq,ex-Yugoslavia).
  4. D
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:19 am
    You people are ridiculous, you stink of racism. What about atrocities committed in Germany and France. You have conviently named individuals from non western countries. Put your own house in order first. What about the misery of African Americans who are killed by White police for being black. What about Saudi Arabia. Social media has power.
  5. D
    Dec 2, 2016 at 7:50 pm
    Get a grip.......w of North and South America devastated by Europeans. The natives killed and extinct. Add Australia and New Zealand to it.
  6. D
    Dec 2, 2016 at 7:53 pm
    You are right. ...add six million Jews gased and millions of Roma/Gypsies killed.
  7. K
    Dec 2, 2016 at 9:36 am
    Germany has inducted millions of refugees over the past years. They unilaterally dumped the Dublin accord to let refugees in. They have walked the talk. Therefore, Steinmeier and Germany have every right to preach. Do not go trashing every "White Man" without knowing the facts. You might be surprised to know that India is not the only greatest nation in the world. And nor are "brown men" the only greatest people in the world.
  8. S
    Suren Singh Sahni
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:19 pm
    No one is more worthy than Julian ange.
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