Respect for the rule of law is a fundamental principle of a democracy based on universal human rights. Freedom of speech and a free press are necessary conditions for human rights.  Democracy is weakened by attacks on the free and independent press and lawyers.


Vigdis Freedom is arranging a symposium on the premises of Fritt Ord (the date will be fixed in the beginning of August 2019).

Respect for the rule of law is a fundamental principle of a democracy based on universal human rights. Freedom of speech and a free press are requirements to uphold human rights. When freedom of speech is weakened this seriously affects the work of human rightsdefenders. In many countries, they are put to trial, accused and convicted for crimes based on laws that are unclear, unfair and in some cases retroactive. In Turkey, the rule of law has been severely weakened since 2016. In Hungary and Poland there are multiple signs of similar development. In addition, authoritarian states increasingly prosecute lawyers who represent human rights defenders in the courtroom. The lawyers are identified with their clients and charged and convicted alongside their clients. Consequently, democracy is weakened by both attacks on both the free and independent press and lawyers.


The symposium has two goals:
(1) To highlight the interdependence of freedom of speech, rule of law and the right to be represented by a professional lawyer.
(2) Identify three initiatives (either suggestions or concrete projects) that Vigdis Freedom can work on together with local lawyers to support the local lawyers in their work and to create international attention for the human rights work.


The cultural perspective
Authoritarian leaders are almost always charismatic storytellers who employ clear, simple, and engaging narrative structures. The stories they tell relate to local and global cultural myths that possess strong motivational power.
One example is the cartoon hero Superman, whose worldview justifies a monopolistic use of nphysical force. When Trump speaks about “draining the swamp”, he is identifying himself as a pop culture hero in a narrative structure that many people can relate to. The only one who can “drain the swamp” is an incredibly rich leader without attachment to established groups. This story mirrors that of Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman. To defend democracy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law, it is necessary to acknowledge that judicial and political arguments, logic and rhetoric are insufficient on their own. The active use of narrative and archetypal cultural myths that tap into our understanding of right and wrong can also play a significant role in furthering respect for the rule of law.


Holding the symposium
We have called this seminar a symposium because we would like for the discussion and the panel debate to identify three initiatives that Vigdis Freedom Foundation, working together with lawyers and organizations from the countries involved, can achieve. The goal is to establish tools that can help human rights defenders and their lawyers to uphold democratic principles in their society. In addition, it will serve as an opportunity for all attendees to
make connections and establish a network. Vigdis Freedom recognizes that democracy needs to be protected and fought for if it is to be maintained, and that this fight must happen locally. All human rights activists that Vigdis
Freedom have been in contact with, emphasize the importance of international support forthem to have energy to continue their work. Therefore, it is important for human rights advocates that confront authoritarian regimes and the misuse of power on a daily basis to have the opportunity to meet and create a network outside their own country. In addition, we want to explore the possibility for new tools. We therefore invite both international and Norwegian organizations, journalists, lawyers and
students that work with freedom of speech and rule of law to the symposium. This invitation is especially extended to students, journalists and human rights advocates from Poland, Hungary and Turkey.

Introduction (10 min)
Anne Christine Kroepelien
XXX (10 min)
Henrik Syse
08.50 – 09.15
Defending Human Rights defenders in Turkey (25 min)
09.15 – 09.40
Defending Human Rights defenders in Poland (25 min)
09.40 – 10.05
Defending Human Rights defenders in Hungary (25 min)
(10.05– 10.20: Break 15 min)
10.20 – 10.35
Why legal counsels are important for human rights defenders (15 min)
Are Thu
10.35 – 10.55
The Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of
Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms (20 min)
Jan E. Helgesen, Professor University of Oslo
(10.55– 11.10: Break 15 min)
11.10 – 12.00
The Rule of Law vs. the Rule of Lore (50 min)
An exploration of archetypal stories and cultural myths used by authoritarian leaders.
Alexander Dunlop, Leader of Cultural Myth School of Branding
(kl.12.00 Lunch)


Work shop 13.30 – 16.30
In the panel discussion we will explore if it is possible to identify three initiatives (suggestions/projects) for Vigdis to undertake together with other organisation.
Moderator: AC Kroepelien

Alexander Dunlop, xxx, xxx, xxx,

Kort CV liste over deltakere:

Jan E. Helgesen is a professor at the University of Oslo, and has spent a great deal of his acadmic life in «The European Commission for Democracy through Law» (The Venice Commission.) He has worked with the rule of law and its relationship with democracy Henrik P. Syse is a norwegian philosopher. He is a researcher at PRIO and a professor at Bjørknes Høyskole. Alexander Dunlop is a leading expert in the use of myths for brand development and politics. Through studies of global brands, he has collected «Mythographics» for cultures representing over six billion people.
Are Thu
Anne Christine Kroepelien is a norwegian business lawyer, cultural politician in the conservative party, and a vocal advocate for the rule of law. She established Vigdis Freedom Foundation in 2015.