NEW YORK (September 15, 2018) — On the International Day of Democracy, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) remains strongly committed to its mission to promote and protect human rights in closed societies, and unite people in the common cause of defending and promoting liberal democracy. In two days — on Monday, September 17 — HRF is hosting the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York to give this important cause a platform, and to empower activists to fight back as democracy comes under threat around the world. The event, which is taking place at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, will be livestreamed on oslofreedomforum.com starting at 11 a.m ET.
“As someone who was born in the Soviet Union, and who more recently lived under the rule of a repressive, vindictive dictator — Vladimir Putin — I know just how precious and powerful democracy is. To those with the great fortune to live under democratic regimes, the International Day of Democracy is a reminder not to take your freedom for granted, and to do what you can to defend it,” said HRF Chairman Garry Kasparov. “The Oslo Freedom Forum in New York will celebrate democratic principles, and will give you a chance to hear firsthand from activists, academics, and experts who are on the frontlines of change, combating authoritarianism around the world.”
The rise of authoritarianism is one of the largest global challenges. According to HRF's detailed regime analysis, 93 countries in the world are non-democratic. In other words, 53% of the world's population — 4,062,711,896 people — are living under authoritarianism. HRF classifies every country in the world as governed by a democratic, competitive authoritarian, or fully authoritarian (or dictatorial) regime, following the definitions suggested by renowned political scientists Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky (who spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2011). According to research conducted by HRF, there are 40 competitive authoritarian and 53 fully authoritarian regimes worldwide.
HRF is one of the few international organizations that focuses exclusively on promoting human rights in authoritarian regimes. In 2018, HRF has condemned the unfree and unfair elections that took place under the dictatorial regimes in Azerbaijan, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, and Russia. It has advocated for freedom of speech in Malaysia and Ecuador, and highlighted basic rights issues in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia through publications in mainstream news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. HRF's Impact Litigation Project has represented various individuals before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in cases against authoritarian regimes like Iran, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, and Cuba. HRF has also submitted contributions to the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review process for the authoritarian regimes of Eritrea, Vietnam, Nigeria, Turkmenistan, and Cuba.
OFFinNY speakers include Russian democracy advocate and HRF chairman Garry Kasparov, Venezuelan opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience Antonio Ledezma, Vietnamese pop star and women's rights activist Mai Khoi, North Korean defector and author Yeonmi Park, Zimbabwean civil rights activist and pastor Evan Mawarire, Turkish democracy advocate and basketball player for the New York Knicks Enes Kanter, and others. The full lineup of speakers can be found here. All talks will be livestreamed on oslofreedomforum.com, and you can follow along for on-the-ground coverage on Facebook and Twitter.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
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