Thor Halvorssen is popularly known for being a champion of the oppressed or powerless in society. He has created a reputation for fighting against autocratic leadership while advocating for human rights in places where such rights are abused.
As a champion of the powerless, Halvorssen is one person who has experienced a dictatorial regime first hand. While at the University of Pennsylvania, his father was arrested and tortured for simply doing his job as the Venezuelan ambassador for anti-narcotic affairs as well as a special investigator for the Venezuelan Senate Commission. This issue prompted Thor to organize and lead a campaign that earned the support of the Amnesty International. It was through this campaign that Thor secured the release of his father.
Away from his father, Thor’s mother was shot and wounded by members of the Venezuelan government security organ during a peaceful protest. All these situations may have played a significant role in preparing him to be a strong and unwavering human rights advocate.
Halvorssen’s Involvement in Human Rights Advocacy
When it comes to advocating for human rights, Thor Halvorssen specializes on various matters including slavery, dictatorship threats to democracy and human trafficking. More importantly, Thor is a recognized lecturer on human rights in various institutions like the New York City Junto, Harvard Law School and the American Enterprise Institute.
Halvorssen previously served as the chief executive officer and first executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. As the head of FIRE, he united both libertarian and conservative advocacy organizations like the Feminists for Free Expression, Heritage Foundation and the Eagle Forum. In March 2004, Halvorssen stepped down from his position at FIRE, and later announced the formation of the Human Rights Foundation.
Human Rights Foundation
After the formation of HRF in 2005, it established its headquarters in NYC. The organization boasts of an International Council, which includes some renowned prisoners of conscience like Harry Wu, Elie Wiesel as well as Vladimir Bukovsky. It also includes democracy activists like Garry Kasparov and Mart Laar. As a leader of HRF, he has repeatedly advocated and lobbied for the release of various political prisoners like Liu Xiaobo.
Oslo Freedom Forum
Halvorssen is also acknowledged for founding the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2009, which is an international gathering of human rights advocates. Since its inception, the forum takes place in Oslo on a yearly basis. The international media highly publicizes the event to the point of giving it other names such as the Gathering of Heroes by the Norwegian newspaper.
DriverPete December 15, 2016