What is RARE?
Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) brings leading European human rights defenders together in a two-year capacity- and alliance-building programme. As a solidarity alliance, RARE is co-organised by partners from academia and civil society: The Hertie School, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland and Oxfam Novib.
RARE is an exceptional programme for human rights defenders and civic space advocates from across the EU to meet, learn and strategise together.
In RARE’s second cohort, from fall 2022 till summer 2024, 26 leading staff members of civic organisations from all over the EU will take part in 10 high-quality skills- and knowledge-building events (camps). They will collaborate on developing and implementing a joint project related to civic space in the EU. Participants will forge connections with and join RARE’s first group.
Resource persons and expert contributors at the 10 camps will be drawn from Hertie School faculty, leading civil society and multilateral organisations as well as think tanks. After 20 months, participants will be better equipped to build strong organisations and cooperate in a resilient alliance that is based on collaboration towards a common agenda on fundamental rights and rule of law in the EU.
Why do we need RARE?
If the European Union (EU) wants to remain a global champion of high democratic standards and human rights protection, it must also take action 'at home' within the union itself to protect and fortify defenders of the civic space in countries formerly considered safe havens for human rights work.
An understanding must take root that sees an attack on one civic organisation operating in one jurisdiction as a threat against all others too. National human rights NGOs need to broaden their portfolio and become active advocates vis à vis the governments and parliaments of other European countries as well as multilateral organisations.
How will we recharge advocacy for rights in Europe?
This initiative brings solidarity and cooperation into practice. Over the course of ten camps in different European cities (see calendar section) participants are equipped with the skills, resources and the European network their organisations need to counteract increasingly challenging national operating contexts.
Moreover, the programme offers a platform for networking, learning from one another and for collaboration on a collective European project. It enhances their organisations’ visibility in the international public sphere and opens up opportunities for joint advocacy campaigns and lobbying.
Advocacy brief: An EU strategy for civil society – Recognition, inclusion and protection
Civil society is one of the strongest guardians of European values and an indispensable part of our way of life. For years, we have witnessed increasing threats to democracy, a shrinking civic space and the rule of law backsliding across member states. We need to rethink and transform how the EU connects with its citizens based on an overarching engagement strategy. Civil society in Europe is in danger and needs protection now more than ever. This advocacy brief calls for:
➡ Policy and legislative change at the EU and national levels;
➡ Consistent civil society access to policy debates and processes at the EU level;
➡ Strengthened existing consultation mechanisms; and
➡ Access to sustainable funding.
We urge the European Commission to anchor these four spheres – designed to protect and expand civic space – in an EU strategy for civil society in the form of a Communication, within the remainder of its mandate.
The full advocacy brief can be accessed here.