Human Rights

Human Rights

Universal and Indivisible

All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights – regardless of where they come from, where they live, what they look like, whom they love, what language they speak, their gender, their religious or political beliefs, their social or economic status or in whatever way they may be different. The Heinrich Böll Foundation is committed to ensuring that all people know their rights, which they can demand and defend.

70 years of Human Rights

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." This was proclaimed 70 years ago, on 10 December 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris, when the community of world states adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Since then, the UDHR served people around the world as an anchor to fight for their freedom, dignity and equality, and to urge and oblige rulers, those in power and political and economic actors to respect the rights and dignity of all human in everything they do.

70 Years of Human Rights. Indivisible. Inalienable. Universal.


70 years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We work with our partners around the world towards making democracy and human rights, dignity and freedom a reality for all. The triad of HUman Rights - Democracy- Ecological Sustainability is the basis for our work.

By Barbara Unmüßig

Human Rights After Seventy Years: The View from the South


Seventy years after the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) human rights are found in country’s constitutions and also incorporated in regional instruments. However, there is no issue as heated as the universality character of human rights.

By Yuyun Wahyuningrum

Access to Rights and Governance in the Context of Fragile States

A fragile state is not able to deliver core functions and human rights to the majority of its population. But fundamental rights are not favors given by the state or the government; they are duty, and those in power must account for this duty.

By Désiré Assogbavi

Civil Society and Human Rights

Civil society is part and parcel of all political processes, be they national or international. It can shape political processes, successfully organize political participation, uncover corruption and human rights abuses – and it will demand accountability from state actors.

But all across the world, civil society is under pressure. In many countries, state authorities are taking more and more systematic measures, aimed to restrict the work of civil society. This also affects partners of Heinrich Böll Foundation and the foundation puts the topic of shrinking civic spaces on the political agenda in order to encounter the trend with a human rights-based approach.

Dossier: Squeezed – Spaces for Civil Society

The civil society is globally under pressure. In many countries governments are restricting the activities of civil society organisations with targeted measures. In this dossier we deliver analysis and background knowledge, whilst exploring new scopes for action for civil societies.

Authoritarian repression under the pretext of sovereignty

The repression of civil societies activites in countries like Egypt and Russia are justified with the "protection of the states sovereignity" and the "principle of non-intervention". When unwelcomed critique is silenced, activists need all our solidarity and support.

By Wolfgang Kaleck, Simon Rau

Civic Charter

Repression of civil society is on the rise all over the world. The charter aims to support civil society organizations as activists throughout the world, to advocate for their rights and freedom of action, and to demand government guarantees.

Democracy and Human Rights

Democracy is not an automatic success. Democracy must be fought for, revitalized, and renewed. Throughout the world people are standing up for political, economic, and cultural rights. Many of these advocates of political freedom take great personal risks. Supporting democratic engagement worldwide is a core concern of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Human rights, democracy, and ecology – this triad stands at the center of our international work.

Media Capture Central European Style

With foreign owners leaving the market, Central European oligarchs are buying whatever they can get their hands on. The region is an object lesson in how vested interests can create a quasi-media monopoly on information.

By Krisztián Simon

Dossier: For Democracy

With the publication “For democracy” and this online-dossier, we analyze the state of democracy worldwide as well as the possibilities of democracy assistance. At the same time, we provide insights into the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s political work for democracy.

Democracy must be fought for and renewed

People want democracy. The surveys show anywhere in the world. But what is the right way to help people on the way to a better life in a liberal democracy? With years of active work in promoting democracy we support mainly dedicated people in the existing or emerging civil societies.

By Barbara Unmüßig, Claudia Rolf

People Power


How can young people get involved in causes they're passionate about? We asked former and current activists for their advice on how you can make a difference.

By Nicole Johnson

LGBTI rights are Human Rights

People should be free to choose their sexual orientation and gender identity. Therefore, the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and inter* (LGBTI) persons is integral to the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Because, when the rights of people are restricted due to their way of life or orientations, in everyday life, due to a lack of protection or even due to active discrimination by the state and institutions, then there is usually a problem with the protection of other rights and the state of institutions. And that affects all citizens in other areas of life as well.

Feature: How LGBTI activists fight for their rights worldwide

Across the globe, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans- and intersexuals (LGBTI) are coming under increasing attack as more repressive laws, discrimination and violence aggravate their living conditions. This dossier describes the restrictions confronting them and the strategies they are formulating to counter these developments.

The Yogyakarta Principles +10


International human rights law and the rights of trans people. The Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 reflects on how international law has evolved in this area.

By Dodo Karsay

Business and Human Rights

Everywhere along production and supply chains, human rights are disregarded. Be it when companies acquire land, displace people and not compensate them adequately or when production conditions are inadequate, when the exploitation of resources pollutes and destroys people's groundwater and natural basis of existence. Companies often also cooperate with authoritarian regimes and help them trample on the human rights of their populations. Thus, the economic actors also have a responsibility when it comes to respecting human rights.

Tricky Business | Böll.Spotlight

Governments and business are ruthlessly asserting their interests in an unprecedented global run on resources. Meanwhile citizens' basic rights are denied and civil society's

Right to Human Rights

It is not easy to enforce human rights before court – but it is possible. Whether by relying on national or international law, through the International Criminal Court or special tribunals, economic actors and those in power violating human rights can be held accountable. Also, courts often help to oblige governments to make the normative obligations of human rights a reality in their policies and national legislations. Here, we show a few examples of where this works.

Climate change litigation

Climate change and human rights – Can the courts fix it?


Climate litigation is on the rise - in Germany, in Europe and worldwide. What role can courts play in the fight against climate change? This article shows the link between human rights and climate change, its implications, and introduces some of the cases.

By Anne Kling

Climate Justice - Can the courts solve the climate crisis?

Can governments and industry be put on trial in climate cases, to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable and future generations? The livelihoods of hundreds of millions could be threatened by unprecedented storms, droughts, floods, and sea-level rise.

Rights to realizing gender equality

Section 377 is scrapped! Sexual Minorities become full citizens of India

Shubha Chacko is a prominent LGBTQ activist from India. On the occasion of the landmark Supreme Court judgment decriminalizing a portion of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, she writes on the long fight against section 377, the challenges ahead and what it means for the society at large.

By Shubha Chacko

“Because I would have to be sterilized”


Across Europe, trans people are denied their right to have their gender recognized, unless they fulfill invasive requirements. Human rights bodies have clearly affirmed: this is a violation of trans people’s human rights.

By Dodo Karsay

Trans, intersex, queer: Germany’s highest court makes groundbreaking ruling

The German Federal Constitutional Court has ordered the legislature to provide a third gender option beside male or female in the country’s birth registry – or else do away altogether with information on gender in civil status. This puts Germany in a position to play a leading role in Europe on this issue.

By Leo Yannick Wild
Our Voices, Our Choices

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