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On the ‘World Human Rights Cities Forum’ 2021: An interview with Morten Kjaerum and Helena Olsson

Ahead of the World Human Rights Cities Forum 2021 (7-10th of October) we talked to Morten Kjaerum and Helena Olsson about their thoughts and hopes for the event.

morten director rwi
Morten Kjaerum is looking forward to the World Human Rights Cities Forum.

How would you describe WHRCF in a brief sentence?

Morten: I would describe it as as being an annual forum where exciting and interesting ways for cities to meet and exchange ideas for moving forward can occur. This in turn is emphasized further by the fascinating speakers that will attend. For instance, the forum will be opened by the UN Secretary-General, and that show how important and exciting this forum will be!

I would describe it as the leading forum for a global and varied discussion between local governments and organisations that work with local governance about human rights issues. The WHRCF has grown from year to year since it started in 2011.


What would be your message for individuals who are interested in the discussions and topics that will be raised in the forum, but who might feel that the forum itself raises too many difficult areas and subjects?

I think the fact that this forum focuses on the local level, and on practical experiences from Mayors and others who work practically with human rights, will make it easy to follow the discussions even those who are new to these topics. At the same time, they will be able to listen to interesting experts from the UN, from academia – including RWI and from other stakeholders who join as moderats and panelists. There is a wide variety of topics that I think many can relate to. And it is free and easy to join – which is new since 2020. They can just browse the sessions in the programme on the WHRCF website and register to join any sessions they find interesting.

You will experience the relance of how human rights can be essential in creating a local community and especially during the corona crisis, which has openend up the areas which need rebuilding and strenghtening within communities and how we can build forward and fairer.
“We have a vaste and intereting programme at the WHRCF this year. It will be very exciting.”

What are you most hopeful about that this forum will be able to achieve?

Helena: I hope that new cities will take the opportunity to listen in and be inspired by other cities presenting in the forum. We of course hope that this movement of local governments with a strong commitment to human rights will continue to grow in size and force.

Hopefully, this forum can shed some light on how we can see human rights as a driving force and contributor in creating a better level of equality in the social sphere. And at the same time, we hope the forum will strengthen the network between different cities. Hopefully, this might also provide the opportunity to harvest the necessary experience to efficiently combat other pressing issues that threaten human rights security, such as for instance corruption.
Read more and sign up to the event here


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