FES Human Rights Award 2023

to Shaharzad Akbar, human rights activist and former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Award Ceremony and Discussion

With Reem Alabali-Radovan, Member of the Bundestag, State Minister for Migration, Refugees and Integration and Commissioner of the Federal Govenrment for Anti-Racism

Dr. Sabine Fandrych, General Secretary of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


Tuesday, November 28, 2023 • 5:00 PM 
 

With the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Human Rights Award 2023, the FES honours the unwavering commitment of Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar and her courageous engagement as the last Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2019 to 2021. She is an impartial voice for democracy and human rights, and did not only criticise the Taliban, but also the Afghan government and the international community during the years of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. She is a genuine advocate for the human rights of all Afghans and set an example for dialog and reconciliation with her participation in the intra-Afghan peace conference in 2019 in a country torn apart by more than 40 years of war.

Today, she lives in exile with her family and continues to raise awareness of the desolate situation in her home country and the resistance of Afghan women against the Taliban regime with her work as head of the human rights organization Rawadari. 

She is acknowledged as an international voice providing guidance for dealing with the de facto authorities in Afghanistan and to overcome injustice by dialogue and reconciliation through her uncompromising stance on human rights and the rights of women.

The presentation of the FES Human Rights Award 2023 to the Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar sends a signal of unbroken solidarity with the Afghan people, who have been suffering under catastrophic humanitarian conditions since the Taliban took power in August 2021. This signal is closely connected to the important discussion on the lessons learned from 20 years of German and international engagement in Afghanistan and the future of Afghanistan.


About the Award Winner

The Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar has been advocating for an inclusive and democratic future for Afghanistan since her youth. Born in northern Afghanistan in 1987, her childhood was marked by her family's escape to Pakistan from the Taliban in 1996. After her bachelor's degree in Anthropology at Smith College in the USA, Shaharzad Akbar became the first Afghan woman to complete a postgraduate degree and MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford University. She is an alumna of the FES Afghanistan Young Leaders Forum (YLF), a mentoring programme from 2004 to 2021 for young Afghan leaders in government, civil society, trade unions, media and academia.

As Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2019 to 2021, Shaharzad Akbar gained international recognition. She on various occasions spoke at the United Nations Security Council and various international fora. Under her leadership, the AIHRC was a trusted point of contact for all Afghans to document human rights violations and advocate for the protection of their rights. Previously, Akbar was a member of the National Security Council and of various development councils of the Afghan government. From 2014 to 2017, she was Country Director of the Open Society Foundation's office in Afghanistan. Shaharzad Akbar was the first chairperson of the 1400 Afghanistan Youth Movement, which she co-founded in 2012. Exemplary for her commitment, the movement's goal was to develop a democratic and inclusive vision of the future across ethnic, religious and political boundaries.

Today, she lives in exile with her family. She heads Rawadari, a human rights organization which campaigns for human rights in Afghanistan, and is a visiting lecturer at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. In 2021, she was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law and was a finalist for the Sakharov Prize.


Responsible:
Martin Mader,
Desk Officer South Asia
Asia and Pacific Department
Email: Martin.Mader(at)fes.de

Organization:
Diego Schumacher
Asia and Pacific Department
Email: Diego.Schumacher(at)fes.de


Programme

Registration

Opening
Mirco Günther, Head of Department Asia & Pacific, Friedrich-Eebert-Stiftung

Welcome
Dr Sabine Fandrych, Secretary General, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

FES Human Righs Award Ceremony

Laudatio
Reem Alabali-Radovan, Member of Parliament, Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration and Federal Commissioner for Anti-Racism

Presentation of the honorary certificate of the FES Human Rights Award 2023 by Dr Sabine Fandrych

Speech of the Award Winner
Shaharzad Akbar, former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Director of Rawadari

Panel Discussion
What future for Afghanistan? Dialogue, Human Rights, Taliban

  • Shaharzad Akbar, Laureate of the FES Human Rights Award 2023
  • Michael MüllerMember of Parliament, Chairman of the Study Commission “Lessons from Afghanistan for Germany’s Comprehensive International Engagement in the Future“
  • Ambassador Erik KurzweilDirector for Indo-Pacific Policy, South Asia, Afghanistan, Federal Foreign Office

Fascilitation: Dr Almut Wieland-KarimiPolicy Advisor, former Director of the Center for International Peace Operations and FES Kabul Office

Reception

End of the event

Panelists and Speakers

Dr. Almut Wieland-Karimi

Dr. Almut Wieland-Karimi

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Mirco Günther

Mirco Günther

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Dr. Sabine Fandrych

Dr. Sabine Fandrych

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Michael Müller

Michael Müller

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Reem Alabali-Radovan

Reem Alabali-Radovan

more
Erik Kurzweil

Erik Kurzweil

more

About the FES Human Rights Award:

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Human Rights Award was awarded for the first time in 1994 and is based on a bequest from the Hamburg couple Karl and Ida Feist. In their will, the founders stipulated that the Foundation should administer their legacy and award a human rights award each year. The award is to be granted to individuals or organizations that have made outstanding services to human rights in various parts of the world.

Karl and Ida Feist were active in the workers' movement for many years. Their own bitter experiences of war and destruction led them to take a decisive stand for peace and non-violence. 

Previous Awards (1994-2022)

2014: Mogadischu/ Somalia

2014: Mogadischu/ Somalia

Fartuun Adan, Direktorin des Elman Peace and Human Rights Center more
2013: Griechenland

2013: Griechenland

Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE) more
2012: Pakistan

2012: Pakistan

Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) more
2011: Ägypten

2011: Ägypten

Slim Amamou, Tunesien und Khaled Said (1982-2010) more
2010: Mexiko

2010: Mexiko

Marcelina Bautista Bautista more
2009: Kapstadt / Südafrika

2009: Kapstadt / Südafrika

TAC - Treatment Action Campaign more
2008: Weißrussland

2008: Weißrussland

Zhanna Litvina more
2007: Kasachstan

2007: Kasachstan

Dr. Jevgenij Zhovtis more
2006: Thailand

2006: Thailand

Somsak Kosaisook more
2005: Chile/Peru

2005: Chile/Peru

Wahrheitskommissionen von Chile und Peru – Anwälte der Menschenrechte more
2004: Sudan

2004: Sudan

Abel Alier und Mahgoub Mohamed Salih more
2003: Ruanda

2003: Ruanda

Internationale Tribunal für Ruanda (ICTR)

more
2002: Israel

2002: Israel

Israelisch-palästinensische Koalition für den Frieden

more
2001: Serbien

2001: Serbien

Serbische Widerstandsbewegung OTPOR

more
2000: Russland

2000: Russland

Verband der Komitees der Soldatenmütter Russlands

more
1999: Indien

1999: Indien

Kailash Satyarthi

more
1998: Algerien

1998: Algerien

Omar Belhouchet

more
1997: Bosnien und Herzegowina

1997: Bosnien und Herzegowina

Pater Petar Andjelovic OFM

more
1996: Nigeria

1996: Nigeria

Olusegun Obasanjo

more
1995: Polen

1995: Polen

Professor Ewa Letowska

more
1994: Deutschland

1994: Deutschland

Marie-Schlei-Verein e.V.

more