Annual Report 2021

Support to human rights defenders around the world

Despite another year with Covid-19 restrictions, the Rafto Foundation has made significant contributions to the work for human rights and democracy around the world. Here are some 2021 highlights:

The Rafto Prize 2021 - fighting for the truth

By awarding the 2021 Rafto Prize to Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), the Rafto Foundation spotlighted the fight for the truth in human rights work. Through the innovative use of statistics and computer technology 2021’s Rafto Laureates have documented widespread human rights violations, uncovered abuses that would have otherwise gone undetected and helped bring perpetrators to justice.

Support for Human Rights Defenders facing resistance - from Egypt to Kashmir

Human rights defenders are a vulnerable group who are experiencing ever greater pressure and persecution. In 2021, continuing to help human rights defenders carry on their work under very trying circumstances has been important. We have also begun work on a report to survey the plight of human rights defenders during the pandemic.

Women Human Rights Defenders - local initiatives emerge

During the pandemic, several local initiatives implemented and led by women human rights defenders emerged. The different projects enabled about 1,000 women to receive training and courses in topics such as political participation and violence against women.

The fight for rule of law and democracy in Europe continues

The Rafto Foundation’s work to defend rule of law in Poland focused on the responsibility of the Norwegian Government and giving support to Polish civil society, which is coming under increasing pressure.

The Transparency Act passed – a milestone for strengthening the responsibility of the business community

In 2021, Norway passed the strongest human rights law to date in comparison with similar laws in other countries. The Transparency Act represents a milestone for the Rafto Foundation and everyone who has contributed to the efforts to bolster business’ legal responsibilities for human rights. Now, efforts to ensure compliance with the Act will become important.

Teaching 10, 000 students and teachers in western Norway

The Rafto Foundation has sustained extensive and good quality educational programmes for schools in western Norway, despite another year with limitations due to Covid-19 restrictions. In 2021, close to 10,000 students and teachers participated in the teaching and courses, either at the Rafto House, at schools or on digital platforms.

With increasing demand for our educational offerings, and with major interest in the Rafto Foundation as a vibrant human rights centre, we are very grateful that the Norwegian Parliament has allocated funds so that we can start designing the upgrade of our premises, which are located in the western Norwegian city of Bergen, which was designated as a Human Rights City in 2018.


Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt

Executive Director
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