Greek academic and activist Dimitris Christopoulos elected FIDH President

Press release
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(Johannesburg) Today Dimitris Christopoulos was elected President of FIDH. 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.

« Fight against terrorism, economic interests and the rise of extremism have precipitated the respect of human rights in depths that we thought had been definitively consigned to the past. Rarely, rights of citizens have been so flouted. It is urgent, and more than ever necessary, that civil societies and activists from the entire world be heard again. Let’s resist and act»

stated Dimitris Christopoulos, right after being elected.

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)

Honorary President:
- Iran: Karim Lahidji

Vice Presidents:
- 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)

Secretaries General:
- 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)
- PERU (Equidad)
- 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)

Read Dimitris Christopoulos’s post-election speech here.

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