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Association of Human Rights Institutes

The Association of Human Rights Institutes - AHRI, consists of 29 member institutions that carry out research and education in the field of human rights. The object of AHRI is to promote research, education and discussion in the field of human rights.

AHRI Co-operation Agreement

The AHRI Co-operation Agreement (pdf) was signed in Reykjavik 22 September 2000. Bjarney Friðriksdóttir, former Director of the Icelandic Human Rights Center, was elected as AHRIs first president. The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights accepted to host the Secretariat with Peter Malcontent as Secretary.

Secretariat (2009-2011)

The secretariat is elected for two-year periods, and the present Chair will end its term in 2012.

  • Chair, Director Nils Butenschøn, NCHR
  • Executive Secretary Ms Guro Frostestad, Principal Executive Officer, NCHR

Executive Committee (2009-2012)

The Executive Committee is elected for three-year periods. The present members will end their term in 2013.

  • Manfred Novak (University of Vienna)
  • Margot Salomon (London School of Economics)
  • Vesna Petrovic (Belgrade Centre for Human Rights)
  • William Schabas (Irish Centre for Human Rights)


AHRI's main source of funding is through COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). COST is one of the longest-running European instruments supporting cooperation among scientists and researchers across Europe.
Today several AHRI member institutions participate in the COST project The Role of the EU in UN Human Rights Reform. See the Activities section for more details about this project.

Strengthening human rights as an academic field

The initiation of AHRI was motivated by the growing number of human rights institutions with a research agenda and the opportunity this created for developing and strengthening human rights as an academic field of study. The main purposes of the association was to coordinate research projects and applications for research funding, and organise seminars and conferences.

Several AHRI member institutions participated in the academic program Human Rights, Peace and Security in EU Foreign Policy. The project's main objective was to increase and deepen knowledge on the functioning of national and international instruments devised to pursue human rights, peace and security objectives in order to recommend modifications of the foreign policy of the European Union.

Founding history

AHRI was founded in 2000 at a founding meeting at Iceland hosted by the Icelandic Human Rights Centre.
All active European academic human rights institutes were invited to join and the following founding members met at Iceland:

  • Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR)
  • Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University
  • Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
  • Danish Institute for Human Rights
  • Icelandic Human Rights Center
  • Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM)
  • Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights

Human Rights Centre University of Essex was the next to join.

The initiative to create an Association of Human Rights Institutes was taken by former Director of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, Nils Butenschøn, at a Nordic directors meeting in Copenhagen in 1999. He made the first drafts of the statutes.