The aim of the Human Rights Foundation has never been to explore the smallest human rights abuses that take place in nations seen to be democratic; HRF founder Thor Halvorssen has been known to thank major activist groups he believes are focusing too much attention on the plight of those in jail in the U.S. Despite his praise for their work, Halvorssen believes there is much more important work to be completed facing up to the most despicable tyrants of the world whether they come from the right or left of the political spectrum.
The Human Rights Foundation was formed in 2005 by Thor Halvorssen after he grew impatient with the work being completed by the major human rights activism groups he worked alongside on a regular basis; Halvorssen located the Human Rights Foundation in New York as he felt this would allow his group to remain clear of political interference and bias at government level. Halvorssen set out to become one of the world’s leading human rights activists by creating a series of events and campaigns through the Human Rights Foundation that explain the many abuses being committed against citizens of nations all over the globe. As early as 2007 the work of the Human Rights Foundation began to focus on the country of Bolivia where concern was growing over different punishments being handed out to opposition leaders in the nation; a subsidiary group known as HRF-Bolivia was formed that addressed directly the concerns of those opposed to the leadership of the nation.
One of the major events organized by the Human Rights Foundation is the annual Vaclav Havel Award for Creative Dissident that formed a major part of the campaign against Cuba that formed a major part of the HRF’s work in 2012. Not only did Thor Halvorssen’s group call on Urban Outfitters to stop creating merchandise featuring the image of Che Guevara to honor those who died in the Cuban Revolution, but the group also awarded the Vaclav Havel Award to the Ladies in White group that has worked consistently in Cuba to fight human rights abuses.