The Norwegian Human Rights House will move to new facilities on 7 June 2004.
The present organisations at the Human Rights House will share offices with Amnesty International, Nansen Dialogue Project, The Norwegian Council for the Rights of Kurdish People, and The Norwegian Burma Committee. The intention is to strengthen human rights work both on a local, national and international level.
New contact details
Tordenskioldsgate 6b, 0160 Oslo, Norway. Tel: (+47) 22 47 92 00, Fax: (+47) 22 47 92 01.
In 2004, The Norwegian Human Rights House celebrates its 15th anniversary.
On 25 May 1989, representatives from several Norwegian human rights organizations met in Oslo to discuss the establishment of a Norwegian Human Rights House. On of the initiators was the Chairman of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (an NGO working to protect human rights in the OSCE area), Mr Stein Ivar Aarsæther. According to the minutes from the meeting, Mr Aarsæther stated that the purpose of establishing such a house was the creation of a broader human rights community that would help improve cooperation and reduce costs by sharing resources and knowledge.
A new organization, “The Norwegian Human Rights House”, was set up, consisting of representatives from the human rights NGOs located at the house, working to defend human rights in Norway as well as internationally. Among the organizations were the Norwegian PEN, Amnesty International in Oslo, and – already mentioned – the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. In addition there were NGOs working with human rights in Poland, the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and, later, with Tibet.
A Norwegian businessman, Mr Knut U. Kloster Jr, generously offered the organizations working facilities at his house located in Urtegata 50, Oslo. The NGOs would not pay rent, but running- and maintenance costs. Together with another Norwegian businessman, Mr Svein Wilhelmsen, Mr Kloster also offered to set up a fund to support the new organization. A few months later, Ms Sissel Føyn was employed as Executive Director of the Norwegian Human Rights House, to run the secretariat. In 1994, Ms Maria Dahle, Executive Director at the Human Rights House Foundation, replaced Ms Føyn.
The Norwegian Human Rights House soon became a vital nexus for human rights activities, a working community where new projects were initiated and a number of arrangements were held: Meetings, seminars, press conferences, receptions, even Tibetan christmas fairgrounds and international folk dance courses. President Landsbergis of the Republic of Lithuania and President Havel of the Czech Republic were among the early visitors to the new house.
The official opening of the Norwegian Human Rights House was in October 1989, and hence coincided with historic events in Eastern Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, organizations at the house focused on what they considered to be the main challenge ahead: Supporting fragile, emerging democracies. Key words were the establishment of democratic institutions, respect for the freedom of the media, and the rule of law. Among the instruments were election observation, media monitoring, human rights education and information, networking (both nationally and internationally), advocacy, and support to civil society organizations.