Oslo Scholars Program

enabling tomorrow's human rights leaders, today

The Oslo Freedom Forum



This is a three-day experience like no other. The Oslo Freedom Forum provides a unique venue for pioneers and entrepreneurs in the realms of advocacy, business, academia, politics, media, and technology to gather and collaborate on how best to make an impact on the world around them.


  • Bring humanitarian issues to the top of the global agenda
  • Provide a setting for eye-opening presentations
  • Highlight the stories of human rights advocates
  • Encourage the inspiration and exchange of ideas
  • Focus on closed societies that need exposure
  • Grow and empower an international community


The 2011 Oslo Freedom Forum featured distinguished speakers from across the world who presented on a vast array of topics, from an analysis of some of the world’s worst dictatorships, to a look at the impact that a single individual can have on the world around them. Speakers included Nobel Laureates Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi, and Jody Williams; former presidents Belisario Betancur, Alejandro Toledo, and Emil Constantinescu; Ghanaian economist George Ayittey; American neuroscientist James Fallon; Burmese rights activist Zoya Phan; Belarusian journalist Zhanna Litvina; and Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy.

The 2011 Forum also featured three panels, including a discussion between media innovators from Russia, Egypt, Brazil, and Denmark on overcoming censorship; a dialogue on the rapidly growing movement for democracy in the Middle East; and an examination of the intersection of foreign aid, intervention, and human rights.

The 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum featured participants from more than 40 countries and six continents. It focused on the progress made in the realms of civil liberties and freedoms over the past century, while exploring the innovation of modern day advocates—both those who are working on the ground and those who are affecting change as policy makers, world leaders, and social entrepreneurs. Speakers included former Polish president Lech Walesa; Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez; Malaysian former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim; Russian chess grandmaster and democracy advocate Garry Kasparov; modern day abolitionist Benjamin Skinner; Ugandan proponent of LGBTI rights Kasha Jacqueline; and Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

At the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum, a group of more than 30 speakers shared powerful testimonies on human rights, with an emphasis on the importance of literature in advancing the cause of freedom. Participants included: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel; Czech playwright and politician Václav Havel; Chinese-born British author Jung Chang; Kurdish rights advocate Leyla Zana; and Tibetan former political prisoner Palden Gyatso.

Hundreds of thousands have learned about the Oslo Freedom Forum through television, radio, print, and e-media. Our speakers’ presentations have been viewed online more than 250,000 times. The Freedom Forum has garnered support from Amnesty International Norway, Civita, the City of Oslo, Color Line, the Nobel Peace Center, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, Human Rights Action Center, the Freedom of Expression Foundation, the International Society for Human Rights, the John Templeton Foundation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Thiel Foundation, the University of Oslo, and other internationally respected bodies and individuals.


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