What is RARE?

Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) is an exceptional programme for human rights defenders and civic space advocates from across Europe to meet, learn on an executive level and strategise together and join a community of practice.  We bring them together in a two-year capacity- and alliance-building programme. 

In our third cohort, from fall 2024 till summer 2026, 25 leading staff members of civic organisations from all over Europe will take part in eight high-quality skills- and knowledge-building events (camps). They will collaborate on furthering joint advocacy efforts to enhance civic space in the EU. Resource persons and expert contributors at the eight 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.  

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.

Why do we need RARE?

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Europe are working amid growing, often systematic attacks on civic space, fundamental rights, the rule of law and democratic institutions. To effectively tackle these challenges, HRDs need solid skills to lead strong and resilient organisations, as well as strong bonds to act in solidarity across countries and portfolios regularly, towards concrete campaigns and advocacy efforts. RARE offers an invaluable platform for HRDs to build solidarity networks among peers and cultivate cross-border solidarity against attacks and collaborate in joint advocacy for human rights and the rule of law in the wider European region. 

Indeed, we believe that if the 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.  

Launched in 2020, RARE has created a firm and reliable community of human rights professionals and their national-level NGOs working together to promote and protect civic space, human rights, and the rule of law in the EU. By bringing together HRDs from different European countries, RARE enables mutual learning, exchange of experiences and networking among peers sharing similar goals. Through taking part in events aimed at building their skills, developing specific policy ideas, and disseminating their positions and experiences in publications and webinars (see for instance here - Policy recommendations – Rights 4 EU), RARE participants enhance national civil society participation in initiatives aimed at assessing and strengthening civic space around the EU, and call for an EU-wide civil society strategy.


How will we recharge advocacy for rights in Europe?

This initiative brings solidarity and cooperation into practice. Over the course of eight camps in different European cities 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.

See our indicative schedule of activities and camps on the application page here.




More about RARE

Learn more about RARE's first and second cohorts here!

This project is realised with funding from: