Conference in Zagreb, 2006
The Human Rights House Network has now held its annual meeting in Zagreb. The meeting was dedicated to our common vision, strategies and programs as a result of the evaluation process that the Network has finalized this autumn. The representatives from the Balkans, Caucasus, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the United Kingdom cooperated in order to re-defining our regional programs in accordance with the Network's general vision and strategies.
The Human Rights House (HRH) in Oslo was established in 1989 and a few years later it started to help establishing Human Rights Houses in other cities. In 1994 four Human Rights Houses (Oslo, Moscow, Warsaw, and Ljubljana) created a network for Human Rights Houses with the HRH Foundation in Oslo as its secretariat. In 2002, the HRH Foundation decided to evaluate our own work, the concept of a Human Rights House, and our network. Principles and methods for the evaluation were discussed during the annual network meeting in 2002.
Two of HRH F employees carried out an internal assessment of the HRH network in 2003. Their report was discussed at the network’s annual meeting in Bergen in 2003. The evaluation process started at the annual network meeting in Baku in September 2005 and ended with a presentation and feedback on this draft report at the annual meeting in Zagreb 2006.
When HRH F decided to undergo an external evaluation the goals were to find strengths and weaknesses with the Human Rights House as a concept, and with the networking between the different associated NGOs. In addition we wanted to find reasons for the difficulties in finalising new Human Rights Houses and look into the priorities of our work at the secretariat.
The conclusions from the evaluation report are that the most important benefit from working together in a Human Rights House for all NGOs interviewed is the moral support within a house; the feeling of being seen, being respected and being surrounded by people valuing the genre of work one is doing. This seems of special importance to human rights defenders who often work under harsh conditions with harassments, low or no salaries and uncertain job situations.
In places where Human Rights Houses have been established, public visibility has enhanced (Oslo, Bergen, London, Warsaw, Sarajevo) and thus strengthened our influence and broadened the scope. In Moscow, Minsk and Baku they say that being a member of the Human Rights House Network has increased the security for those working in the HR NGOs and their clients.