Universal Rights Awards Ceremony | EUNewsletter

Universal Rights Awards Ceremony

24 June 2014
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On 19 June the Universal Rights Awards Ceremony took place at the Congress Hotel in Yerevan. This ceremony was set up by the US Embassy in Armenia, the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia, the British Embassy in Armenia, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office in Yerevan, the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, the United Nations Armenia Office, and Counterpart International in 2012 with the aim to honour the individuals working to promote human rights, accountable governance, civic activism, local government reform, community service and free speech in Armenia.

The event was opened by the country representative of Counterpart International in Armenia, Carel Hofstra: ‘For international missions in Armenia it has already become a tradition to organise the Universal Rights Awards, aimed at promoting democracy in Armenia. It is a special pleasure for me to welcome the UN Armenia Office in joining us to contribute to human rights awareness and protection’. He added that the included nominations for civic activity had made noticeable progress on 2013.

The Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, awarded lawyers Artak Zeinalyan and Ara Ghazaryan with the “Freedom Defender” Award. ‘Artak’s and Ara’s recognised professionalism and outstanding personal commitment have helped many Armenian nationals to exercise their rights to legal assistance and fair trial, including through applications lodged with the European Court of Human Rights,’ said Pavlyuk.

The British Ambassador to Armenia, Kathy Leach, awarded Lara Aharonian the “Woman of Courage” Award. ‘People at the Women’s Resource Centre have exceptional courage, and are prepared to put themselves on the front line to defend the rights of the vulnerable. Indeed, courage is, perhaps, too weak a word – fearless would be better. Lara Aharonian, together with her colleagues at the Women’s Resource Centre and other partners, has given a voice to women who have found themselves threatened, afraid and voiceless,’ she noted.

The “Media Excellence” Award was given to Hetq Online, affiliated to the “Investigative Journalists” NGO by Dirk Lorenz, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Armenia. ‘The EU has reiterated on many occasions that free, diverse and independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of democratic society by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas, and by ensuring transparency and accountability. Hetq online is a vivid example of investigative journalism in Armenia, which is actively involved in reporting on different fields. Throughout its performance, the journalists of Hetq have proved their professionalism and dedication to media principles,’ said Lorenz.

The Deputy Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, William Hanlon, presented the “Government Reformer” Award to Davit Tonoyan, First Deputy Minister of Defence. ‘He has been an ardent champion of human rights mainstreaming, as well as the democratic oversight of Armenia’s armed forces. We appreciate his commitment and efforts to reform the security sector of Armenia and to promote the universal values of security, prosperity and democracy that bind us together,’ Hanlon stated.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto presented the Head of the community of Karahunj, Lusine Avetyan, with the “Local Government Reformer” award: ‘Lusineh’s leadership in Karahunj has made the community a better place to live through a challenge of growth, reform and change’.

US Ambassador John Heffern presented the “Community Service” Award to Laura Movsisian, Director of the Pediatric Rehabilitiation Centre in Yerevan. ‘Dr Movsisian has made outstanding efforts to provide rehabilitation services to children with disabilities. She sets the example of a leader who serves her community and demonstrates how people can volunteer and help other people,’ said Heffern.

Since 2012, the Universal Rights Awards Ceremony has been the first multi-mission initiative to highlight the contributions of Armenia’s civil rights activists, government officials, media and civil society representatives to the promotion of human rights. Armenian government officials, foreign diplomats, NGO representatives and the press attended the event.

Universal Rights Awards Ceremony

On 19 June the Universal Rights Awards Ceremony took place at the Congress Hotel in Yerevan. This ceremony was set up by the US Embassy in Armenia, the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia, the British Embassy in Armenia, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office in Yerevan, the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, the United Nations Armenia Office, and Counterpart International in 2012 with the aim to honour the individuals working to promote human rights, accountable governance, civic activism, local government reform, community service and free speech in Armenia. The event was opened by the country representative of Counterpart International in Armenia, Carel Hofstra: ‘For international missions in Armenia it has already become a tradition to organise the Universal Rights Awards, aimed at promoting democracy in Armenia. It is a special pleasure for me to welcome the UN Armenia Office in joining us to contribute to human rights awareness and protection’. He added that the included nominations for civic activity had made noticeable progress on 2013.

The Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, awarded lawyers Artak Zeinalyan and Ara Ghazaryan with the "Freedom Defender" Award. ‘Artak’s and Ara’s recognised professionalism and outstanding personal commitment have helped many Armenian nationals to exercise their rights to legal assistance and fair trial, including through applications lodged with the European Court of Human Rights,’ said Pavlyuk. The British Ambassador to Armenia, Kathy Leach, awarded Lara Aharonian the "Woman of Courage" Award. ‘People at the Women’s Resource Centre have exceptional courage, and are prepared to put themselves on the front line to defend the rights of the vulnerable. Indeed, courage is, perhaps, too weak a word – fearless would be better. Lara Aharonian, together with her colleagues at the Women’s Resource Centre and other partners, has given a voice to women who have found themselves threatened, afraid and voiceless,’ she noted. The "Media Excellence" Award was given to Hetq Online, affiliated to the “Investigative Journalists” NGO by Dirk Lorenz, Chargé d'Affaires of the EU Delegation to Armenia. ‘The EU has reiterated on many occasions that free, diverse and independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of democratic society by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas, and by ensuring transparency and accountability. Hetq online is a vivid example of investigative journalism in Armenia, which is actively involved in reporting on different fields. Throughout its performance, the journalists of Hetq have proved their professionalism and dedication to media principles,’ said Lorenz.

The Deputy Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, William Hanlon, presented the "Government Reformer" Award to Davit Tonoyan, First Deputy Minister of Defence. ‘He has been an ardent champion of human rights mainstreaming, as well as the democratic oversight of Armenia’s armed forces. We appreciate his commitment and efforts to reform the security sector of Armenia and to promote the universal values of security, prosperity and democracy that bind us together,’ Hanlon stated. United Nations Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto presented the Head of the community of Karahunj, Lusine Avetyan, with the “Local Government Reformer” award: ‘Lusineh’s leadership in Karahunj has made the community a better place to live through a challenge of growth, reform and change’. US Ambassador John Heffern presented the "Community Service" Award to Laura Movsisian, Director of the Pediatric Rehabilitiation Centre in Yerevan. ‘Dr Movsisian has made outstanding efforts to provide rehabilitation services to children with disabilities. She sets the example of a leader who serves her community and demonstrates how people can volunteer and help other people,’ said Heffern. Since 2012, the Universal Rights Awards Ceremony has been the first multi-mission initiative to highlight the contributions of Armenia’s civil rights activists, government officials, media and civil society representatives to the promotion of human rights. Armenian government officials, foreign diplomats, NGO representatives and the press attended the event.