The Martin Ennals Foundation

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders honors individuals and organizations that have shown exceptional commitment to defending and promoting human rights, despite the risks involved. It strives to provide them with much needed protection, raising their public profile and gathering international support for their work. The Award is managed by the Martin Ennals Foundation, based in Geneva (Switzerland). There are currently over 60 defenders associated to the Martin Ennals Award in 34 countries. In order to broaden its support to Defenders, the Foundation has launched several programs in Geneva and beyond.


Martin Ennals was a British human rights activist who served as Secretary General of Amnesty International from 1968 to 1980. He co-founded the human rights organizations ARTICLE 19, International Alert and HURIDOCS.



Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs | The promotion of human rights is an important concern and a foreign policy goal of Switzerland, enshrined in its Constitution. It is based on the conviction that respecting fundamental rights and freedoms is key to sustainable economic and social development, for the benefit of all. Respect for human rights contributes to global peace and security, world prosperity and sustainable development. It also prevents conflict and violent extremism. Switzerland’s support to the Martin Ennals Award is part of this policy.

City of Geneva | Geneva has a long-standing tradition of supporting the cause of human rights. Host city of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and many other human rights organizations, Geneva is a world-renowned actor in the defense and promotion of the most fundamental rights. The City of Geneva has been supporting the Martin Ennals Award for several years. Its contribution is key to the award’s recognition and international outreach.

Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland | Human rights, sustainable development and fairness in international relations are pillars of Ireland’s foreign policy. The country is committed to contributing to a more just and peaceful world, a more stable and prosperous world, for the benefit of all. Ireland supports the Martin Ennals Award under the Human Rights and Democratisation scheme. It sees it as an innovative instrument to enhance protection to human rights defenders worldwide.

Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) | Bread for the World is the development and relief agency of the Protestant Churches in Germany. In more than 90 countries across the globe, it empowers vulnerable and marginalised people to improve their living conditions. Bread for the World primarily focuses on food security, health and education, access to clean water, strengthening democracy and respect for human rights. Its support to the Martin Ennals Award is part of its commitment to improving the protection of human rights defenders.

Canton of Geneva | With its Service for International Solidarity, the Canton of Geneva endeavours to promote sustainable development in order to contribute to the fight against poverty and to address socio-economic disparities, discrimination and exclusion. It strives to empower vulnerable people and communities, facilitate their access to education and healthcare and promote gender egality, respect for cultural diversity, democracy and human rights.

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund | The Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF) works to protect and promote human rights internationally through direct support to organisations working in the first line of defence for human rights.
The NHRF aims to be a flexible, courageous and global actor that provides direct support to local organisations working for the rights of vulnerable and marginalised individuals and groups.

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy | The Foundation was established with an inter-related, two-tracked mission in mind. Domestically, the TFD strives to play a positive role in consolidating Taiwan’s democracy and fortifying its commitment to human rights; internationally, the Foundation hopes to become a strong link in the world’s democratic network, joining forces with related organizations around the world. Through the years, Taiwan has received valuable long-term assistance and stalwart support from the international community, and it is now time to repay that community for all of its efforts. 

Loterie Romande | Founded in 1937 for charitable purposes, Loterie Romande ensures the organization and operation of lottery and betting games in the six cantons of Western Switzerland. The company distributes 100% of its profits to non-profit associations working for the community in the social, cultural, health, heritage protection, research, education, environment and sports sectors. | is the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide. Led by a Consortium of 12 NGOs active in the field of Human Rights.

Other donors

Over the years, the Martin Ennals Foundation could rely on ad hoc funding by a large variety of donors, such as:

The European Foundation for Human Rights
Francoise Demole, Geneva
Amnesty International
Elisabeth Ahmadi, Verbier
The Evens Foundation, Belgium
Oltramare Foundation, Geneva
Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Sweden
UBS, Geneva
European Commission, Brussels
Organisation Internationale pour la Francophonie
OAK Foundation
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Government of France
Government of United Kingdom
Government of Spain
Government of Finland
Government of Germany
Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation
Robert Fulghum
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Denmark
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)