Tag Archives: human rights

On 11 December Matenadaran in Yerevan hosted the Universal Rights Award Ceremony. This ceremony has existed since 2012, and was the first initiative of the international community to highlight the contributions of Armenia’s civil and political rights activists, government officials, media and civil society representatives to promoting human rights. The organisers honoured individuals working in Armenia to promote human rights, freedom of expression, diversity, religious acceptance, democracy, transparency, legal reform and equal rights in the country.

ARS_8926The UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, presented the “Woman of Courage” award to the Chairman of the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organisation, Ani Balkhian. The Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, handed over the “Government Reformer” award to Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigen Kocharyan. The US Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, presented the “Media Excellence” award to MediaLab Newsroom Laboratory. The UK Deputy Head of Mission, Alison Chick, gave the “Freedom Defender” award to the representative of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Isabella Sargsyan. This year, for the first time, the French and German Embassies in Armenia presented a joint “Franco-German Prize for Equal Chances”. The Gyumri-based “Agate – Rights Defence Centre for Women with Disabilities” NGO received this award.

ARS_8975The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, awarded the “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO and its Programme Director, Daniel Ioannisyan, with the “Promoting Justice and Transparency” award. He said: ‘It is a big day for all of us. This award is very important, at least from my perspective. We live in times when demand for justice in our society is growing – Armenia is no exception. We need more justice – for centuries our civilisation developed on the concept of delayed justice: justice will come, but later. Transparency is a part of justice. I want to congratulate Daniel for his courageous efforts to increase transparency in Armenia. Transparency can be inconvenient, “dirty” work as it can show us things we do not want to see. But thanks to guys like him, we are aware what to change in our society. I hope that, due to his initiative, in the coming months and years Armenia will dedicate itself to cleaning up its electoral processes and ridding its schools of political manipulation and propaganda. This is very important for democracy in Armenia’.

From 30 November to 5 December 2016, the “ARTerial Road” cultural project held events in Gyumri, Shirak marz to promote the European values of equality, freedom of speech, tolerance and democracy through art. During those days, lectures, training, and master classes for local artists and art critics were held, in which Jirka Pfahl, a European artist from Leipzig, Germany, took part.  This cultural project was implemented by the Berlin Art Hotel in Gyumri and funded by the European Union.
On 5 December, Piotr Świtalski, the EU Ambassador, paid a visit to Gyumri to participate in the final events. The Ambassador first met with Gyumri Euroclub members, students and CSOs at the Berlin Art Hotel, where he chaired a discussion on human rights and domestic violence in Armenia.He then took part in a joint press conference with Alexan Ter-Minasyan, the Director of Berlin Art Hotel, and Jirka Pfahl.

2Ambassador welcomed the choice to hold events in Gyumri: ‘Through supporting this project, the EU Delegation to Armenia would like to signal its intent to be more involved in working in the Armenian marzes. We want to support more local initiatives, particularly in Gyumri. Now we are discussing with the Armenian government the so-called “Single Support Framework for EU support to Armenia from 2017-2020” – we would like to start focusing our assistance in one or two marzes, and Shirak is one of the candidates. Gyumri is the cultural capital of Armenia, the only city where there is a “Europe Square”. Don’t be surprised to see me more in Gyumri, or to see more EU projects carried out in Gyumri and Shirak marz’.

3Pfahl was very happy with his invitation to participate: ‘I was invited to convey European values, such as freedom of speech and democracy. We have to concentrate on people in this materialised world, and through our two-day workshops with local artists and young people we explored long-term possibilities and how to connect democratic values. I hope that we will be one of the best examples in the world for how to live in an open and peaceful way where art, culture and our children’s future develop freely within the natural environment’.

“ARTerial Road”ended with the launch of an art exhibition on human rights at the Berlin Art Hotel, which, after the press conference, all invitees had the opportunity to enjoy.

The launch of the project called “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-based Violence in Armenia” was held on 19 February 2015 at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Yerevan. This project is financed by the EU and is being implemented by the Near East Foundation UK and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The main goals of the project are: to deliver economic development programmes that support gender equality and protect women against gender-based violence; to help survivors of violence to become a complete part of their community and be involved in community life; to provide women with the opportunity to work in or start their own small businesses.
ARS_2018During the event Arpine Baghdoyan, the project’s director, presented its main foci and expected results: ‘For the implementation of the programme we have chosen four partner civil society organisations (CSOs): Women’s Support Centre, Spitak Helsinki Group, Women’s Resource Centre, and Goris Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation. The target group of our project will be CSOs, 200 survivors of gender-based violence, 100 community members, and 80 employers of survivors. During the project, four CSOs will engage the public, support groups, employers and other market actors across many sectors in joint actions, dialogue and training around norms, safe workplaces and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities’.
ARS_2052The Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry is based in Gavar and aims to promote sustainable local economic development through market assessment. During the project it will provide business development, micro-credit and training to the beneficiaries of the project. Artyom Grigoryan, the Executive Director of the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the organisation had rich experience in implementing small business grants, and that its initial focus on Gegharkunik marz had now spread to almost all other marzes in Armenia: ‘We pay great attention to the issue of women’s employment – it is a particular problem in villages. While there are a lot of job opportunities in Yerevan, there are very few opportunities in rural areas. Our own experience shows that women, for example, not only come up with more successful business ideas, but also have the agency to make them a reality. After our different training courses we run, men generally write business concepts, which are more difficult to realise, whereas women always write realistic and small budget ideas which can easily be implemented’.
ARS_2043The project named “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia” will build commitment to preventing gender-based violence and promoting gender equality among community leaders and employers. Over a period of two years 200 survivors of gender-based violence will be offered assistance: 60 women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificates; 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses; 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project aims to increase confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that they can then make and shape those choices that affect their lives positively.
The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017, with an overall budget of €342,711. 95 percent of the budget is funded by the EU under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.


The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. The EU Delegation to Armenia organised on International Human Rights Day this year a public debate entitled “Women as an Active Part of the Civil Society”. The Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Dirk Lorenz, attended the event and, on behalf of the European Union, announced the EU determination to remain key partner for Armenia in various areas of development: ‘Gender equality is an issue which is very high on the EU agenda. In this regard we are working with the government, as well as with civil society. We have initiated a number of projects aimed at combating violence against women; within the scope of our efforts we are providing financial support to civil society organisations to raise awareness and provide adequate support. Additionally, we have launched another project aimed at decreasing selective abortions, which is sadly a common issue in the country’. He highlighted that the EU intended to foster economic growth in Armenia and that it evaluates women’s rights as an important step in societal development.

International Human RIghts Day lecture (2)The Head of Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Olexander Pavlyuk, highlighted the importance of similar discussions and talked about the active participation of the Council of Europe in women’s rights promotion: ‘The Council of Europe considers women’s rights and gender equality as integral parts of human rights. The Armenian government should give priority to the development of efficient gender-equality strategies. On 1 August a legal treaty was issued by the Council of Europe – a convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is the first instrument in Europe of its kind: it is aimed at preventing violence and promoting equality between women and men’.

Participants in the public debate expressed hope that preventing violence against women would stay on the table of discussions and would remain a high priority as an integral aspect of human rights. They also added that they hoped the public debate would become a milestone on the path of promoting women’s rights in the country.

UN Resident Coordinator (a.i.) Henriette Ahrens spoke further on women’s rights in Armenia: ‘UNICEF looks forward to further implementation of the law on preventing domestic violence and violence against women. In contemporary society, men are seen as protectors and security enablers. Women are valued less, in fact they are frequently considered to be tools for taking care of children. The UN significantly contributes to raising women’s role in the economic and political life of the country’.

UN Women UK representative Tuula Nieminen (1)
The keynote speaker of the event, UN Women UK representative Tuula Nieminen, gave a presentation entitled “Women’s rights are human rights”, which showed opportunities for making gender equality a reality: ‘Women rights are human rights; in order to protect women rights it is crucial to comprehend relations between social institutions and the government, which in fact affect economy, social dynamics, family and community life. Gender stereotypes should be broken so that women can be perceived as they are, along with their needs and wishes.