Our advocacy work aims to ensure that Laureates’ voices are heard when and where decisions relevant to their lives and causes are taken.

Alessandra Canova, Director of the Geneva office

The Right Livelihood Foundation’s presence in Geneva allows it to advocate and engage with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and international institutions to bring visibility to our Laureates and raise their causes at the international level. The advocacy work is a crucial tool to improve the Laureate’s working environment as well as to ensure the safety of those at risk. To make this a reality, the Right Livelihood Foundation regularly engages in conducting activities with the UN Human Rights Council, which oversees the work of Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review.


UN Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets three times a year in Geneva, in March, June and September and deliberates on a number of different human rights issues.

Having received ECOSOC status in July 2018, the UN Human Rights Council has become central in the Foundation’s protection and advocacy strategies. We provide strategic advice and support to our Laureates to engage and leverage the Council, by making its mechanisms more accessible for them.

Since September 2018, the Foundation has actively engaged in conducting activities throughout the sessions, bringing Laureates to address the Council about their concerns, organising side events with partner organisations, delivering oral statements, as well as consolidating its presence in Geneva.

Special Procedures

The Special Procedures (SP) of the Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. They are appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations and to advise and assist in promoting and protecting rights. The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social.

The Right Livelihood Foundation works closely with the Special Procedures mandate holders and brings to their attention the issues affecting our Laureates, by submitting urgent appeals, letters of concern and letters of allegation whenever a Laureate is the victim of a human rights violation and/or facing an emergency situation.

Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. During the review, States have the opportunity to assess a country’s human rights record, and make comments and recommendations for improvement. the human rights situation of all Member States is reviewed every 5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 states each.

Throughout the review, the Right Livelihood Foundation fully supports Laureates with the advocacy strategy of their engagement with the UPR. It provides technical assistance to the Laureates in submitting reports which are incorporated into a compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and lobbies delegations to raise specific recommendations to the State under review.

Laureate Factsheets

Lottie Cunningham Wren

2020 Laureate

Country: Nicaragua

Current status: Death threats, intimidation, land grabs, smear campaign

Nasrin Sotoudeh

2020 Laureate

Country: Iran

Current status: Arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, denial of medical care

Aminatou Haidar

2019 Laureate

Country: Western Sahara

Current status: Physical attacks, smear campaigns

Mozn Hassan

2016 Laureate

Country: Egypt

Current status: Travel ban, assets freeze, judicial harassment

Sima Samar

2012 Laureate

Country: Afghanistan

Current status: Death threats

Helen Mack Chang

1992 Laureate

Country: Guatemala

Current status: Death threats


Abdullah al-Hamid, Waleed Abu al-Khair & Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani

1992 Laureate

Country: Saudi Arabia

Current status: Arbitrary detention, Travel ban, Torture and ill-treatment, Medical negligence