The Global Campus Annual Report 2021 celebrates human rights defenders across our network

“Supporting the Global Campus of Human Rights has been a very important decision. Your global network and various programmes focusing on human rights have never been more relevant than today.” Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, May 2021

“I very much appreciated the interdisciplinarity of the programme that enabled me to look at concepts, events, and phenomena from different angles and perspectives, engaging in complex thought processes to grasp the essence of humankind. To me, the fast pace of the progress I was making was unfathomable because I could not believe that in a one-year span, a person could grow so much.” Global Campus student, cohort 2020-2021


As members of the Global Campus of Human Rights, our universities recognise their responsibility to provide a safe space for students and scholars, who are persecuted in their own countries for standing up for the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Our Annual Report 2021 demonstrates our contribution to empowering current and future human rights defenders through our multiple activities: master’s programmes, vocational training, cross-cultural exchanges, advocacy programmes, and much more. But the year 2021 marks a turning point in our history, driven by dramatic developments on our globe.

On the initiative of the European Parliament, we organised a special training course in July for students from Belarus who were expelled from their universities because they had demonstrated against the election fraud and brutal repression in this European dictatorship.


Our colleagues and students of the Arab Master developed a web series in honour of Lokman Slim, a Lebanese intellectual and anti-Hezbollah activist who had promoted a culture of remembrance and was killed in early February 2021. 

The students at the Asia-Pacific Master launched a Facebook campaign to call attention to the arbitrary arrest and disappearance in March 2021 of their fellow student Saw Lin Htet, who had joined a public protest against the military junta in Myanmar while conducting field research. 

After the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August, we immediately designed an emergency scholarship programme for threatened Afghan defenders to be hosted in a safe environment at our member universities, which is still being carried out thanks to member universities (that are hosting one or more Afghan scholars at their institution), partners and alumni. The European Commission agreed on an emergency support grant and Right Livelihood matched the EU support shortly after. 


There is also hopeful news in our Annual Report 2021: young human rights defenders are on the rise. Children and young people are hungry for knowledge and striving to have their voices be heard. Protection of the environment and biodiversity, rights of indigenous communities, antiracism, and protection from big tech are some of the challenges young people are increasingly taking charge of. This year we involved children and young people in some of our core programmes, and, thanks to them, we are increasing and improving the range of initiatives that proactively engage with the younger generation. 

The core section of the report is about the outcomes of our regional hubs headquartered in Venice, Sarajevo/Bologna, Pretoria, Bangkok, Yerevan, Buenos Aires and Beirut and their respective master’s programmes. The wealth of initiatives beyond the higher education offer - campaigns, publications, student-led projects, web-series, outreach activities, etc. - testify of the great vitality of our 100+ members and partners across the globe.


Last but not least, the Annual Report 2021 celebrates the connection between human rights and creativity, a connection that is at the core of many of our programmes. Lorent Saleh, Alessandro Ienzi and Raizes Teatro, Oleh Sentsov and Laura María Calderón are some of the featured artists.

These outcomes were possible thanks to the support of the European Union, Right Livelihood, and other donors, as well as the co-funding and unwavering commitment of our partner universities and the dedication shown by our staff at headquarters in Venice and at our regional hubs. We also wish to thank the invited contributors to our Annual Report: Josep Borrell Fontelles, Michele Bugliesi, Jane Da Mosto, José Ramos-Horta, Andrew Jacobs, Yetnebersh Nigussie, David Maria Sassoli, Edward Snowden, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mary Robinson.


Access the Annual Report: 


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