"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has freedom."
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) is a human rights organization that supports civil society organizations (CSOs) in South Africa in order to protect and promote human right. Established in 1996 through a cooperation agreement between the European Union (EU) and the South African government, the FHR receives funding primarily from the EU, with additional contributions from other donors. The Supervisory Board, which comprises South African distinguished academics, experts, professionals and human rights activists, independently shapes the goals, strategies and direction of the FHR’s programmes. The FHR is incorporated as a non-profit company under the Companies Act 71 of 2008.
The FHR supports civil society organizations (CSOs) and public institutions to promote and facilitate increased awareness, respect, protection and fulfilment of the rights enshrined in the South African Constitution. The FHR currently runs three programmes including the EU-funded Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA) programme, the Unfinished Business of the Truth Reconciliation Commission (TRC) programme, and the UNCHR Study Programme (the Programme in partnership with the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees). In addition to these, the FHR has initiated a new programme titled “Sustaining Struggle for Human Rights”. The FHR implements its human rights programmes through grant-making, capacity-building, research and policy development, advocacy and civil society mobilisation, and regional and international cooperation.
We envision a vibrant South Africa where people are legally empowered to exercise their rights as enshrined in the Constitution, and which, through legal empowerment, contributes to a more socially just, equal, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa built on the constitutional and democratic values. In particular our vision is of a society, where:
- People have equal access to justice, natural resources, quality education, and other socio-economic rights;
- Policies and legislation support the realization of socio-economic rights, redress injustices of the past, build a human rights culture, and promote transformation;
- Civil society thrives and operates in an enabling environment that ensures its sustainability;
- Civil society mobilizes around critical human rights issues with a view to protecting and promoting human rights.
Using the Constitution as a tool, the FHR works to sustain the struggle for human rights. By supporting civil society and conducting research, grant-making, capacity-building and policy development, the FHR also works to legally empower all people living in South Africa, support legal and institutional transformation in South Africa, and build a human rights culture.
In order to achieve its vision, the FHR:
- Advocates for those who are disadvantaged, poor and marginalized;
- Creates a platform for government, civil society and other relevant stakeholders to engage in dialogue about pertinent human rights issues;
- Builds solidarity and mobilizes civil society around critical human rights issues;
- Engages in policy development and debates on legislative processes;
- Undertakes capacity-building and grant-making for civil society, government and other stakeholders.
The FHR implements a human rights-based approach to development, empowering vulnerable and marginalized groups to demand accountability. It emphasizes participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and respect for human rights. The Constitution states that all human beings are entitled to their rights, without discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, language, religion, political views, national or social origin, sexual orientation, or disability.