The Congress is composed of FIDH member organisations, which numbered 178 at the end of the FIDH Congress in Turkey in 2013. It meets every three years. The Congress discusses FIDH thematic and geographical priorities and determines the orientation of FIDH policy.
39th Congress - Johannesburg 2016
Dimitris Christopoulos was elected President of FIDH the 27/08/2016. He succeeds Iranian lawyer Karim Lahidji who headed the international human rights NGO for the last three years. The vote was held during the 39th FIDH Congress in Johannesburg where its 178 member organisations from 120 countries were gathered to elect the new International Board and determine the main orientations for the next three years.
In his first speech as FIDH President, he highlighted :”The issue at stake is the core of politics: the struggle against inequality, the struggle for altering the power structure in favour of the weak, in favour of the rule of law, in favour of our own vision for a just world. These are not only legitimate but urgent commitments of our movement.”
The fight against impunity will be at the centre of Dimitris Christopoulos’ mandate, as will be the mobilization for the respect of human rights in the framework of the economic globalization. The new FIDH President has been denouncing for several years the negative impacts of austerity policies on human rights. This problematic was the subject of a report on the situation in Greece : Downgrading rights: the cost of austerity in Greece.
As FIDH President, Dimitris Christopoulos will work towards the implementation of the priorities decided by FIDH’s member organisations. He will be mainly based at FIDH’s headquarters in Paris for the first year of his mandate at least.
During its 39th Congress, new organisations from 15 countries, such as Russia, South-Korea, India, Norway, were approved to join FIDH increasing its membership to 184. The Congress adopted 26 resolutions including three special motions concerning the situation in Syria, Zimbabwe and a call for the protection of human rights defenders worldwide.
The newly elected International Board is composed of 22 activists from 21 countries, representing all together five continents. FIDH is glad to welcome for the first time in its board 11 new human rights defenders.
Composition of the new FIDH International Board:
Greece: Dimitris CHRISTOPOULOS, Hellenic League of Human Rights (HLHR)
Iran: Karim Lahidji
Afghanistan: Guissou JAHANGIRI, Armanshahr/Open Asia
Armenia: Artak KIRAKOSYAN, Civil Society Institute (CSI)
Bangladesh: Adilur RAHMAN KHAN, Odhikar
Côte d’Ivoire: Drissa TRAORE, Mouvement ivoirien des droits humains (MIDH)
Ecuador: Elise MONGE, Comision Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)
Egypt: Mohamed Aly Mohamed ZAREA, Human Rights Association for the assistance of Prisoners (HRAAP)
France: Maryse ARTIGUELONG, Ligues des droits de l’Homme (LDH)
Guatemala: Juan Francisco SOTO, Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH)
Kyrgyzstan: Tolekan ISMAILOVA, Bir Duino
Peru: Gloria Margarita CANO LEGUA, Asociacion pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)
The Netherlands: Gerard J-M VAN VLIET, Dutch League for Human Rights
The Philippines: Rosemarie TRAJANO, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Tunisia: Hafidha CHEKIR, Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates (ATFD)
Uganda: Sheila MUWANGA, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)
Zimbabwe: Arnold TSUNGA, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
Belgium: Dan VAN RAEMDONCK, Ligue Belge (Francophone) des droits de l’Homme (LDH)
Botswana: Alice MOGWE, DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
Burma: Debbie STOTHARD, Altsean-Burma
Haïti: Pierre ESPERANCE, Réseau national de défense des droits humains (RNDDH)
Palestine: Shawan JABARIN, Al Haq
France: Jean-François PLANTIN, Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) France
New FIDH member organisations:
CANADA (Canadian Centre for International Justice)
ECUADOR (Accion Ecologica)
GUINEA (Mêmes droits pour tous)
INDIA (People’s Watch)
IRAN (Justice for Iran)
KAZAKHSTAN (International Legal Initiative)
MOROCCO (Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc)
NORWAY (Norwegian Helsinki Committee)
POLAND (Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law)
RUSSIA (Memorial HRC - Moscou)
SOUTH KOREA (People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy)
SYRIA (Al Marsad)
UKRAINE (Center for Civil Liberties)
38th Congress - Istanbul 2013
Karim Lahidji was elected President of FIDH on May 27, 2013. He succeeds to Souhayr Belhassen who headed FIDH for six years. The vote was held during the 38th FIDH Congress in Istanbul where the FIDH member organisations were meeting to elect the new International Board and define the main FIDH orientations for the next three years.
There were two candidates for the position: Karim Lahidji, FIDH Vice President and President of the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, and Luis Guillermo Perez Casas, FIDH Secretary General and member of the CCAJAR. He is the first FIDH President from Iran.
“It is an immense honour to have been elected President of FIDH. My first message is to all the human rights defenders who are arbitrarily detained, wherever they are in the world. We will continue endlessly to call for their immediate, unconditional release. My thoughts turn especially to my colleagues and friends Ales Bialiatski, in prison in Belarus and Nabeel Rajab, detained in Bahrain”, said Karim Lahidji.
"We would like to reiterate our appeal to the Turkish authorities to free all the journalists, lawyers and unionists who have been arbitrarily detained, in particular Muhammet Erbey, President of the Diyarbakir section of IHD who has been in prison since December 2009 for having denounced human rights violations against the Kurdish minority”, Karim Lahidji added.
"At present, women’s rights are being threatened in many countries; the universality of rights will be at the heart of our fight, more than ever,” said Karim Lahidji.
During the 38th FIDH Congress, its movement was reinforced with the number of member leagues increasing from 164 to 178. The Congress adopted 26 resolutions on, e.g. Mali, Syria, Malaysia, Cuba, Russia and Turkey.
Composition of the new FIDH International Board
President: Karim Lahidji
Souhayr Belhassen was appointed Honorary President of FIDH.
- Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice President, imprisoned in Belarus since 4 August 2011 was reelected.
- Yusuf Alatas, Turkey
- Ezzedine Al Asbahi, Yemen (resigned in November 2014, was replaced by Juan Carlos Capurro, Argentina)
- Dimitris Christopoulos, Greece
- Noeline Blackwell, Ireland
- Katie Gallagher, US
- Tolekan Ismailova, Kyrgyzstan
- Shawan Jabarin, Palestine
- Dismas Kitenge Senga, DRC
- Elsie Monge, Ecuador
- Sheila Muwanga, Uganda
- Rosemarie R. Trajano, Philippines
- Drissa Traoré, Ivory Coast
- Paulina Vega Gonzalez, Mexico
- Zohra Yusuf, Pakistan
- Amina Bouyach, Morocco
- Pierre Esperance, Haiti
- Paul Nsapu, DRC
- Debbie Stothard, Burma
- Dan Van Raemdonck, Belgium
Treasurer: Jean-François Plantin, France
New FIDH member leagues
- South Africa, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
- Angola, Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD)
- Senegal, Ligue Sénégalaise des Droits Humains (LSDH)
- Honduras, Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
- China, China Labour Bulletin (CLB)
- Indonesia, KontraS
- Kazakhstan, Kazakstan international Bureau for Human Rights and rule of law (KIBHR)
- Moldova, Promo-LEX
- Uzbekistan, Association internationale de défense des droits de l’Homme « Club des cœurs ardents »
- Tajikistan, Tajik “Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law” (BHR)
- Egypt, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
- Gulf, Gulf Center for Human rights (GCHR)
- Kuwait, Human Line Organisation
- Lebanon, Centre Libanais des Droits Humains (CLDH)
- Libya, Human Rights Association for Recording and Documenting War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
- Palestine, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights
- Syria, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
- Tunisia, Doustourna
- Tunisia, Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux (FTDES)
37th Congress - Erevan 2010
This 37th Congress was organised in collaboration with its member organisation, the Civil Society Institute in Yerevan, Armenia. The symbolic importance of this place is significant as the region is marked by geo-strategic challenges. Armenia is a country in political transition in which the human rights situation remains fragile, despite some progress but offering new opportunities for change.
This Congress also gave an opportunity for reflection through the organisation of a Forum on the right to an effective remedy before an independent court, regional priority and global challenge.
The Justice Forum
Organised on the theme “JUSTICE: new challenges – the right to effective recourse before an independent court”, this forum offered a unique opportunity to work on the different types of recourses for victims of human rights violations in their struggle for truth, justice and reparation at the national, regional and international levels, and examined the question of the prevention of international crimes based on the exchange of experiences between the NGOs attending from all continents. The forum was dedicated to the memory of Natalia Estemirova, a Chechen human rights defender, assassinated in July 2009.
See Report of the FIDH Forum, "Justice - New Challenges: The right to an effective remedy before an independent tribunal", April 2010 (released in May 2013), only available in French.
Opening ceremony of FIDH’s 37th Congress, attended by human rights defenders from 155 FIDH member organisations around the world, together with key personalities and renowned national and international experts.
Activities carried out with FIDH member organisations in Yerevan during the 37th Congress
- Press conference ahead of the forum, attended by many journalists from the Armenian and regional press
- FIDH’s 37th Congress saluted the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Delegates from all FIDH member organisations visited the Memorial to the Armenian Genocide
- A fir tree was planted on behalf of FIDH’s leagues in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, with the inscription "Memory. Justice. Peace. From the 37th Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights, Yerevan, 10 April, 2010", in English and Armenian.
- A historic moment: during FIDH’s 37th Congress, FIDH member organisations in Armenia (the Civil Society Institute, CSI) and Turkey (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, HRFT and Insan Haklari Derneg, IHD) drew up a joint declaration.
- Press conference of 9 April 2010 during which the joint declaration was made public
The new International Board was elected by FIDH member organisations on 10 April 2010 at the end of its 37th Congress in Yerevan (Armenia)
Resolutions were adopted by representatives of FIDH’s leagues defining the general thrust of its actions and strategies for the next three years.