Soutenir les défenseurs des droits de l’homme

2023 Sakharov fellowship for human rights defenders

Its 8th edition brought together 14 dedicated human rights defenders from all over the world for a two-week training in Brussels and Venice from 5 to 17 June 2023. During this training they enhanced their knowledge of EU and international human rights frameworks and improved their abilities to advocate for human rights.

The 2023 Sakharov fellows come from Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, DRC, Ethiopia, Georgia, Myanmar, Oman, Russia, and Tunisia. They brought with them impressive backgrounds and rich experiences in the areas of defence of freedom of expression, women's rights, LGBTQI+ and minority rights, human rights in healthcare, migration and more.

All are strongly engaged in promoting human rights in their countries. They had dense programmes in Brussels and Venice. The Brussels week focused EU Human Rights policies, mechanisms and instruments, the role of Parliament, networking and personal development workshops. DROI Chair Udo Bullmann and Member Isabel Santos participated in their programme as speakers and they also numerous bilateral meetings with Members.

The part at the Venice Campus of Human Rights put an emphasis on UN mechanisms discussions on indigenous rights, climate change and gender equality. There, they also engaged in debate with Sakharov Laureate Oleksandra Matviichuk on accountability for war crimes in Ukraine and discussed documenting human rights violations and engaging with human rights scepticism.

2022 Sakharov fellowship for human rights defenders

The 2022 Sakharov Fellowship was back in Brussels from the 13-17 June and in Venice from the 20-24 June. Again, an amazing gathering of 14 highly dedicated human rights defenders from Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, and, finally, from Türkiye.

As in previous years, the programme aimed at enhancing their capacity and resilience in their fight for human rights. The participants highly appreciated opportunities to: connect them to the EP and EU institutions, to experts, diplomats, and other human rights practitioners from all over the world; deepen their knowledge of international and EU human rights mechanisms; strengthen their communication and digital security skills and help them boost their psychological resilience; and, not least, lobby for their causes.

The Sakharov Community eagerly embraced its new members: 2021 Sakharov Prize finalist Zarifa Ghafari featured as key speaker at the opening of the Venice School for Human Rights Defenders. She was joined by 2021 Sakharov fellow Hareer Hashim for a roundtable on the current situation of Afghan women. 2009 Sakharov laureate Memorial was represented by Marina Agaltsova to the Roundtable on access to information in Russia. The Venice week was closed by the screening of and a debate on Hava, Maryam, Ayesha film by 2021 Sakharov finalist Sahraa Karimi.

This year's edition was another reminder of the vital importance of human rights for democracy and peace worldwide. As the pool of Sakharov Fellowship alumni grows with every edition, we trust the Fellows to join forces in building a world where we could all enjoy our rights and fulfil our responsibilities, in dignity and freedom.

2021 Sakharov fellowship for human rights defenders

The sixth edition of the Sakharov fellowship programme took place in October 2021.

After a 2020 edition fully remote with a more limited agenda, the fellowship returned to its ambitious design and allowed 14 human rights defenders to follow a two-week intensive training course commencing at the European Parliament in Brussels then continuing at the Global Campus for Human Rights in Venice. With expertise ranging on various issues on environmental law, women's and child's rights, LGBTQ+ and civil and political rights, the fellows derived from Afghanistan, Cameroun, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Russia, and Ukraine. Through this programme, the fellows were provided with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of EU and international human rights frameworks.

In addition to lectures and workshops, the fellows had the opportunity in Brussels to meet MEPs, diplomats, staff of the EU institutions and experts on the most pressing issues in human rights area. This was the occasion for them to draw attention to human rights violations in their own respective countries and to form links with some members of the European Parliament for their future struggles. This edition also encompassed 2017 Sakharov Prize Laureate Laurent Saleh, who visited a new exhibition space dedicated to the Sakharov prize in the Parlamentarium and part of which tells the story of his journey to freedom following years of imprisonment. During this visit, fellows were able to meet and exchange with Lorent Salah. In Venice, fellows were also given the possibility to present their work, to review cases based on participants' experience, to deepen their knowledge of UN HR mechanisms, gender-based violence and consider the impact of climate change.

This program has demonstrated with this sixth edition all its strengths: to allow human rights defenders to unite and discuss for two weeks and to keep contacts for future common struggles. The European Parliament will continue to give its full support to human rights defenders and activists around the world to contribute to the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

If you want to learn more about the fellows of this new edition, short biographies and videos are available on the Sakharov Fellowship World Map.

2020 Sakharov Fellowship for human rights defenders

The fifth edition of the European Parliament's Sakharov Fellowship was held remotely from 21 October 2020 to 25 November 2020. Its 2020 thematic focus was on women's, LGBTI, migrants' and minorities' rights.

Different mode, equivalent impact

Held in previous years over a two-week programme in Brussels and Venice, the 2020 Sakharov Fellowship was converted into an online edition and consisted of eight once-a-week online sessions. The programme covered comprehensive thematic agenda and was complemented by advocacy opportunities through bilateral meetings with MEPs and relevant EU officials.


The 2020 Sakharov Fellowship focused on ways to ensure protection and respect of human rights in times of global crises and on preparing the fellows to address related challenges. The exploration of EU and UN mechanisms to support human rights' work was followed by discussions on three specific topics: women's rights, LGBTI and migrants' and minorities' rights.

2020 Sakharov Fellows

The fellows came from Burundi, Brazil, India, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Colombia, Belarus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China, Turkey, Ghana, and Russia. Their fields of human rights activity are diverse, going from women's and children's rights, minority rights, LGBTI rights, environmental defence, migration, forced labour, freedom of speech to political prisoners' rights.

A stronger Sakharov Community

The Sakharov Fellowship Programme aims to empower the next generation of human rights defenders to serve as agents of democratic change in their countries. The Covid-19 pandemic challenged the European Parliament and the Sakharov Community to discover new ways to make this possible, to collaborate, get together, help break barriers, and react swiftly to defend urgent human rights causes.

If you want to learn more about the fellows of this new edition, short biographies and videos are available on the Sakharov Fellowship World Map.

La bourse Sakharov pour les défenseurs des droits de l'homme

Le Parlement européen donne à la nouvelle génération de défenseurs des droits de l'homme les moyens de devenir des agents du changement démocratique dans leur pays.

La bourse Sakharov offre à des défenseurs des droits de l'homme, au nombre de 14 au maximum et issus de pays n'appartenant pas à l'Union, la possibilité de suivre une formation intensive de deux semaines, dont une à Bruxelles et une auprès du Global Campus for Human Rights and Democracy (réseau mondial pour les droits de l'homme et la démocratie) à Venise. Le programme est organisé chaque année depuis 2016. L'idée de la bourse est née dans la communauté du prix Sakharov, et a été proposée à l'occasion de la conférence marquant le 25e anniversaire du prix Sakharov.

Dans le cadre du programme de formation de la bourse Sakharov, les défenseurs des droits de l'homme sélectionnés peuvent:

• en apprendre davantage sur les cadres, politiques et mécanismes européens et internationaux relatifs aux droits de l'homme;

• acquérir des compétences qui leur permettront d'agir en faveur d'un changement positif et de défendre les droits de l'homme.

Au-delà de cette formation, les boursiers Sakharov:

• viennent renforcer le réseau des boursiers Sakharov, grâce auquel ils partagent des bonnes pratiques, diffusent leurs connaissances et font connaître le prix Sakharov ainsi que la communauté du prix Sakharov;

• continuent d'entretenir des liens avec le Parlement européen et les délégations de l'Union dans leur pays.

Le volet bruxellois du programme est axé sur l'accès aux financements, les compétences en communication, les problèmes de sécurité auxquels sont confrontés les défenseurs des droits de l'homme et les politiques et outils européens de soutien aux défenseurs des droits de l'homme. Il prévoit également des rencontres avec des députés au Parlement européen, des représentants des institutions européennes et des ONG sises à Bruxelles. Les boursiers ont par ailleurs la possibilité de mener des activités de défense des droits de l'homme et d'étoffer leur réseau pendant leur séjour.

À Venise, les boursiers suivent les cours de l'École des droits de l'homme de Venise aux côtés d'étudiants en droits de l'homme originaires du monde entier. Ces cours ont pour but d'approfondir la connaissance du droit international des droits de l'homme ainsi que des instruments et mécanismes qui s'y rapportent et d'enseigner aux étudiants comment les utiliser pour faire bouger les choses sur le terrain. Des universitaires renommés, des représentants des plus grandes ONG de défense des droits de l'homme, des lauréats du prix Sakharov et des députés au Parlement européen figurent parmi les intervenants.

Les candidats doivent posséder une expérience avérée dans le domaine de la défense des droits de l'homme, individuellement ou au sein d'une organisation. Ils doivent également avoir un très bon niveau d'anglais, afin de pouvoir suivre les discussions de groupe et les ateliers à Bruxelles et à Venise et y participer activement.

Le choix des boursiers Sakharov se fonde sur les critères susmentionnés et tient compte d'un souci d'équilibre entre les hommes et les femmes et dans la représentation de différentes zones géographiques et problématiques liées aux droits de l'homme.

Sakharov Fellowship 4-16 March 2024 - call for applications (closed on 8 October)

Sakharov fellows at the Global campus for Human Rights in Venice, 2021
The deadline for applications is midnight 8 October 2023 (CET). Successful candidates will receive confirmation by email, latest by 17 November 2023.

The European Parliament's Sakharov Fellowship offers up to 14 human rights defenders selected from non-EU countries the opportunity to follow a two week intensive training in Brussels and at the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice. The empowering programme for human rights defenders has been organised annually since 2016 further to an initiative taken by the Sakharov Prize Community at the 25th Anniversary Conference of the Sakharov Prize.

Under the Sakharov Fellowship training programme human rights defenders will

· enhance their knowledge of EU and international human rights frameworks, policies and mechanisms and

· develop capacities to advocate for and effect positive change to protect human rights.

Beyond the training, Sakharov Fellows will

· help grow the network of Sakharov Fellows to share best practices, disseminate the acquired knowledge and extend awareness of the Sakharov Prize and the Sakharov Community;

· have the opportunity to maintain links with the work of the European Parliament and continue liaising with EU Delegations in their respective countries.

The Brussels programme focuses on EU policies and tools in support of human rights defenders, accessing funding, developing communications skills, and raising awareness of specific security challenges facing human rights defenders. It further includes meetings with Members of Parliament, officials of the EU institutions and Brussels-based NGOs. The Fellows will also have space for individual advocacy and networking activities.

Training at the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice combines academic teaching on international human rights law, instruments and mechanisms with case studies and provides practical tools for improving the work of human rights defenders to effect change on the ground. Lecturers include prominent academics, representatives of leading human rights NGOs, Sakharov Prize laureates and other outstanding human rights practitioners.

The programme will be organised in person in Brussels and Venice. It might be changed to an on-line format if sanitary conditions require.

The Sakharov fellowship is subject to the approval of the Annual Work Programme of DG-EXPO of the European Parliament.

Candidates should have a proven record in campaigning for human rights in a NGO or other organisation or in an individual capacity. They must have a high level of English, sufficient to follow and contribute to discussion groups and workshops in Brussels and Venice.

The selection of Fellows is based on the above criteria and the need to ensure gender balance as well as the representation of a variety of geographical areas and human rights issues.

The Fellowship covers return travel from the country of origin, accommodation in Brussels and Venice and a daily living allowance. The deadline for applications is midnight 8 October 2023 (CET). Successful candidates will receive confirmation by email, latest by 17 November 2023. Unsuccessful candidates will not be informed of the reasons why they were not shortlisted or offered a fellowship.