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Human Right Course
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What are human rights?
The history of human rights
What right do we have?
The protection of Human Rights
Inter-governmental organisations
Non-governmental organisations
The press and media
International criminal courts
Human rights in everyday life
Human Rights

Did you know

Did you know that the world's largest non-governmental organisation, Amnesty International, has more than 2 million members worldwide?




One of the most important groups of actors that work for human rights are the non-governmental human rights organisations (NGOs). They are often called "independent organisations" because they can believe and say what they want without being spokespersons for a state's policies. They are also often called "non-profit organisations" because they want to change society for the better without making money from doing it. Examples of such organisations in Norway are Amnesty International Norway, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), Save the Children, the Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People (FFO), and the Anti Racist Centre.

NGOs are founded by committed people with an interest in human rights. The organisations often become voices for vulnerable groups in society such as refugees, children, the disabled, prisoners, people involved in prostitution and others. As a rule the organisations have good contact with ordinary people and many of them have members who support them. Many NGOs are experts in their fields and are taken seriously by both the authorities and the media.

In some countries the authorities view NGOs as troublesome and a threat because they criticise the authorities' policies. Every year many human rights activists are killed because they have uncovered violations of human rights and criticised the authorities.

The organisations have different objectives and employ various methods:

Monitoring the human rights situation and suggesting how state authorities can improve it
Reporting human rights problems and suggested solutions to the media, which in turn report these to the people and put pressure on the authorities
Helping people and groups who believe their human rights are often violated
Informing and teaching about human rights
Organising campaigns
Supporting organisations in other countries that work for human rights



- At the end of 2003, Amnesty International had as many as 47,000 members in Norway

- Save the Children raised more than NOK 150 million from Norwegian donors during its TV fundraiser in 1993. Almost NOK 4 million was raised by children holding jumble sales they had organised themselves

Fact box

- The Norwegian Refugee Council has worked for displaced people since 1946 and today is one of the largest organisations in Norway

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