Thor Halvorssen is a Norwegian and Venezuelan human rights activist. Aptly described as “a champion of the underdog and the powerless,” by the New York Times; Halvorssen’s past and present activism shows there is nobody else more deserving of that title. Halvorssen’s advocation for human rights began at the young age of 13, where his opposition to human rights violations in South African apartheid exposed to him to the world of social justice and activism.
Halvorssen entered the activist world of individual rights and due process after his father was taken in as a political prisoner in Venezuela. Halvorssen would go on to found the New York-based Human Rights Foundation following the 2004 shooting of his mother during a protest. Led by Thor Halvorssen, the Human Rights Foundation would dedicate its purpose to defending human rights in turbulent areas where they are frequently violated. Despite being stationed in New York, the Human Rights Foundation as well as Halvorssen have been able to influence politics, people and human rights on a global scale; from countries as large as China to island nations as small as Haiti.
Halvorssen’s activism does not end with the founding of the Human Rights Foundation however, as he is also the founder and CEO of the Oslo Freedom Forum, a yearly gathering of human rights activists from all over the world who have dedicated their lives and work to safeguarding human rights. Halvorssen has also endorsed and contributed the maximum amount of funds possible to the political campaigns of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, another shining example of human decency who continues to dedicate his political career to protecting civil rights and liberties. Halversson’s motivations may be obvious; his mother was shot during a protest, his father was imprisoned and tortured as a political prisoner, and his cousin is still a political prisoner in Venezuela, but Halversson’s persistent dedication to human rights predominantly comes from his love of people and their immortal, undying ability to stand up to authoritarian figures who abuse their power.