With the Marianne Initiative, France is supporting human rights defenders


Launched by the President of the French Republic for Human Rights Day on 10 December 2021, each year the Marianne Initiative for human rights defenders supports the work of women and men working to further human rights all over the world.

Origins of the Marianne Initiative

The Marianne Initiative aims to increase the assistance provided to human rights defenders, both in France and abroad, in collaboration with associations, NGOs, foundations and local government. It is fully in line with the French “human rights and development” strategy and addresses the priorities advocated by France at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

More information on the Marianne Initiative

The Marianne Initiative was a unique and important opportunity for me, because in Turkey, it is not always possible to criticize or express our opinions.

Nurray Simsek, human rights activist

Increasing and optimizing capabilities to defend human rights

Defending human rights is a priority of France’s foreign policy. This commitment can be seen through political and diplomatic actions and is combined with cooperation and support actions on priority issues. Through this initiative, France and its partners aim to increase the capabilities implemented by working more together. That is the purpose of the programme, which has three ambitions.

Internationally, this initiative supports human rights defenders on the ground in their countries working to further fundamental rights and civil liberties. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is working with civil society organizations and human rights defenders to increase their effectiveness, visibility and protection.

The Marianne Initiative also aims to strengthen France’s effectiveness and coherence by uniting the actors involved with the Marianne Association for Human Rights Defenders, initially supported by the ministerial delegation for the reception and integration of refugees (Diair).

Finally, the Marianne Initiative welcomes about fifteen human rights defenders to France. Each year, an independent selection committee chooses foreign laureates, representing a variety of global regions and types of combat: civil and political rights; the fight against violence; women’s, children’s and LGBTQI+ rights; economic, social and environmental rights. The laureates receive personalized support in a forum for discussions and training, which is open to all actors working for human rights.

Read details of the measures set out by the Élysée

Once back in my country, I would like to put the new skills I have learnt here into practice.

Rhobi Samwelly, founder and director of the Hope for Girls and Women association in Tanzania

The first group was comprised solely of women, highlighting their fundamental role all over the world in furthering human rights, and particularly women’s rights. In this regard, the Prix Marianne award is part of France’s feminist diplomacy.

The 2nd Marianne Initiative group will soon be presented.

I will return to Gaza and continue my work and my struggle.

Abier El Masri, research assistant for Human Rights Watch