9 November 2021, 11.30-13.00 - Room 1 – Palais de l’Europe

Interpretation: FR/EN

Civil society actors have always had a role in holding governments accountable for their national and international commitments. This role is also essential with regard to the environment, not least when protecting the rights of people affected by climate change or environmental threats resulting from unsustainable economic projects.

As a consequence, many civil society activists have been labelled “extremists”, accused of choosing environmental protection over social and economic development and subjected to various reprisals. Frequently, these activists face not only danger to themselves, but also an absence of adequate domestic legal mechanisms to protect them, even leading to impunity for violent acts. The talk will allow for an in-depth reflection on the situation faced by environmental activists and a discussion of measures to defend their rights in the context of the “shrinking space for civil society”.

Forum Talk 3 - Threats to environmental defenders
Room 1 – Palais de l’Europe 9 November 2021, 11.30-13.00
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Full screen: ENFR / ORIGINAL

moderator moderator


Moscow Correspondent, The New York Times

Valerie Hopkins is the New York Times' Moscow correspondent. Until recently, she was South-East Europe Correspondent for the Financial Times with a base in Budapest. Before moving to Moscow, Valerie spent a decade covering the Balkans. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Mother Jones, Politico Europe and elsewhere. She has an M.A. in journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in International Relations from the College of William and Mary.

panel panel


Executive Director, Front Line Defenders


Andrew Anderson became the second Executive Director of Front Line Defenders in November 2016.  He previously served as Deputy Director since March 2003. Prior to joining Front Line Defenders, Andrew worked for thirteen years at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International where he was Director of the Campaigning and Crisis Response Programme and then Director of the Africa Programme. Andrew was a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, the Board of Trustees of the Tactical Technology Collective (www.tacticaltech.org) and the Board of Trustees of the Sudan Social Development Organisation UK (www.sudouk.org). He represents Front Line Defenders on the Board of the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism.



Director of Advocacy and Litigation, Reporters without borders


Antoine Bernard is a recognized expert and practitioner of human rights, international justice and NGOs. He is the Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Antoine has been teaching at the School of International Affairs at Sciences Po Paris (PSIA) since its launch in 2010, where he co-directs the Master's degree on human rights and humanitarian action. He is an associate researcher at the Institut des hautes études sur la justice (IHEJ), the General Secretary of La Maison des Femmes de Saint Denis and the administrator of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. He is a member of the jury of the Simone Veil Prize of the French Republic for gender equality. He was previously Director General of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and Deputy Director General of Reporters Without Borders. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy and of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights.



Arctic and Environmental Unit, Saami Council


Susanna Israelsson is from Jiellevárre in the northern part of Swedish Sápmi. She is born and raised in a reindeer herding family and holds a degree in political science from Luleå Technichal University. As an advocate for Indigenous Peoples rights, Susanna has earlier served as both vice president and union secretary in Sáminuorra – the Swedish Sámi Youth Association – which has given her the opportunities to represent Swedish Sámi youth on meetings and conferences on both national and international level. Today she works at the Arctic and Environmental Unit at the Saami Council – a non–governmental organization with Sámi member organizations in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.



Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Dunja Mijatović was elected Commissioner for Human Rights in January 2018 by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and took up her position on 1 April 2018. She is the fourth Commissioner, succeeding Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).

discussant discussant


Representative of the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations to the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe


Alice has a long history of organizational commitments in the youth movement and specializes in citizen participation in democratic processes. Alice has worked with youth policy on multiple levels, from grassroot organizations and local group to international institutions. In her Masters thesis she investigated how young people express political participation and citizenship through media use, giving insight in how democratic structures of today are being influenced by the development of digital technologies. 



WFD Youth Delegate, Global Challenge ONGAWA NGO


I am a 3rd-year-student of a double degree in International Studies and Law at Carlos III University of Madrid. I have always been interested in politics, economics and recently, as I joined a university association called Global Challenge, I have been participating in activities related to sustainability, the SDGs and human development. I chose to join the WFD with this association as it is expanding through many universities in Spain and I believe it will have a great impact on the university community. 

rapporteurs rapporteurs


Master's student in international relations, Sciences PO, Strasbourg, France


Project Manager Assistant, ALDA