Between 1989 and 2021, a total of 346 human rights advocates from 95 countries attended HRAP. In recent years, advocates have ranged from early career advocates who have cut their teeth in very urgent human rights situations to mid-career advocates who have founded organizations.
Below are the biographies of current Advocates and descriptions by select alumni as to why they became human rights advocates.
To see a list of additional past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
South Africa, 2019
Attorney in the Public Health Department , Section 27
Ektaa is an attorney in the public health department at Section 27, a public interest organization that provides legal assistance and advocates for social justice with a focus on access to health care services and education for vulnerable communities. Ektaa is responsible for leading strategic impact litigation, policy formulation, and legal and field research. She specializes in litigation for access to health care services, including sexual and reproductive health rights, migrants’ access to health care, and access to education for learners with disabilities. Previously, Ektaa served as an attorney at the Legal Resources Centre’s KwaZulu-Natal satellite office, where she conducted strategic impact litigation and facilitated community outreach initiatives. Ektaa also assisted the African Centre for Migration and Society’s research project documenting refugees’ experiences with corruption at refugee reception offices.
Ektaa holds a bachelor of laws and is currently completing a master of laws degree in constitutional and human rights litigation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College. Ektaa is an alumna of the Bertha Justice Fellowship, a two-year program for emerging lawyers interested in working on social justice and constitutional rights issues
Founder, Executive Director, and Head of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Department, Association Jeunesse pour la Paix et la Non Violence (AJPNV)
Charbonnel is the founder, executive director, and the head of the psychosocial rehabilitation department of the Association Jeunesse pour la Paix et la Non Violence (AJPNV). The mission of the organization is to combat torture, including sexual and gender-based violence. In addition to its advocacy efforts, the AJPNV provides multi-dimensional services to victims of human rights abuses, such as psychological, legal, and social services. AJPNV also works on women's rights and human rights awareness projects. Charbonnel serves as the Sub Saharan Africa Council member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and as a regional leader of the Global Human Rights Project.
Charbonnel holds a bachelor’s degree in electromechanical and computer data processing from the Institut Universitaire des Sciences et Techniques d’Abéché (Chad). In 2012, Charbonnel completed online courses in conflict analysis, negotiation and conflict management at the United States Institute for Peace. As a former fellow of the York University’s (UK) Centre for Applied Human Rights Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders, Charbonnel is a member of the Human Rights Hub at York University.
Coordinator, International Indigenous Women's Forum
Cecilia is the coordinator of the Indigenous Women's Global Leadership School at the International Indigenous Women's Forum, a global network that links local, national, and regional indigenous organizations around the globe and advocates for indigenous women’s issues at the international level. She previously worked as a literacy educator in indigenous languages, while also delivering lectures on indigenous languages at national and international colloquia and conferences. In 2015, Cecilia contributed to the creation of a community library for indigenous children and youth in her hometown.
Cecilia has a bachelor’s in political science and public administration from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Cecilia belongs to the Mixtecos.
Outreach and Communications Officer, International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia Committee (IDAHO Committee)
Russian Federation, 2019
Member and Volunteer, Algys-Blagosloveniye (Algys-Blessing)
Platon is a member and volunteer at Algys-Blagosloveniye (Algys-Blessing), a regional public interest organization based in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), that provides legal counseling and raises awareness about the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Russia, including the Yakut people to which Platon belongs. Platon is currently a lawyer at the Moscow Chamber of Advocates where he specializes in civil, criminal, and arbitration cases. He previously worked as an investigator at the prosecutor’s office of Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and as legal counsel at the Russian State Social University.
Platon holds the higher education diploma in law from the North-East Federal University and has completed various professional development courses at the Institute for Law and Public Policy.
Executive Director, Freedom and Roam Uganda
Joanita is the executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) diverse persons’ organization that advocates for the respect, protection, and fulfillment of their rights and reinforces feminist culture and narrative. Over the past eight years, Joanita has led the LBQ community by empowering its members and seeking synergies between the LGBTI and feminist movements. Her areas of expertise are organizational leadership, administrative and financial management, human rights advocacy, and civic activism.
Joanita holds a certificate in non-governmental organizations and civic activism from the Institute of International Education (USA). She earned a diploma in telecommunications engineering at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology.
Executive Director, Beijing LGBT Center
Activist, Middle East
As a women’s rights activist in the Middle East, this HRAP participant has dedicated her career to developing and maintaining a grassroots campaign that engages other women in an effort to protect, educate, and build equality for women throughout the region.
Most recently, Lina Castellanos was a Policy Research Fellow with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Prior to earning her M.A. in International Affairs from The New School, Castellanos interned for Human Rights Watch where she worked with the Development and Outreach division and the Americas division. She has also worked with the Peace and Security section of UN Women.
Before moving to New York, Castellanos worked in Bogotá, Colombia with the Director General for the Colombian National Protection Unit, analyzing cases of human rights violations and advising the Director on the approval of security measures for over 300 cases. She has a B.A. in Political Science.
Sierra Leone, 2018
Director, Prison Watch Sierra Leone
Mambu S. Feika is the Director of Prison Watch Sierra Leone (PWSL), an organization dedicated to monitoring prisons throughout the country and advocating for the humane treatment of individuals who are detained. Feika represents PWSL on the Sierra Leone Correctional Service Council, which advises the President of Sierra Leone on policy matters pertaining to correctional services and centers.
Feika holds a Bachelor of Law from the University of Sierra Leone-Fourah Bay and will be attending the University Institute of Geneva in 2019 for the Master’s in International Relations.
Executive Director, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U)
Robert Kirenga is the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U), a network organization focused on advocating and securing the rights of human rights defenders who have been threatened or are under attack. In addition to his work with NCHRD-U, Kirenga serves as a human rights trainer for the national human rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, civil society groups, and institutions of higher learning. Over the course of his career, Kirenga has worked in Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Kirenga earned a Master of Arts in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Oslo and a post-graduate diploma in International Law, and Organization from the Institute of Social Students at The Hague.
Executive Director, Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud
Oriana López Uribe is the Executive Director of Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud (Balance), an organization based in Mexico City that seeks to transform national policies, programs, and actions so that sexual and reproductive rights are guaranteed throughout Mexico. López Uribe is responsible for connecting with donors, developing a monitoring and evaluation system for programs, setting the strategy to internally strengthen Balance, and representing the organization.
Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the organization, López Uribe worked at Balance in the following capacities: Abortion Fund Manager, Deputy Director, Representative to the NACA, and the Youth Advocacy Coordinator. López Uribe has also volunteered with the Youth Coalition for Sexual Rights, where she has also served on the board of directors. She is a member of the feminist alliance Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ), a member of Vecinas Feministas por la Justicia Sexual y Reproductiva en América Latina y el Caribe, and a board member of Mama Cash.
López Uribe earned a bachelor’s degree in social communication from the Autonomous Metropolitan University. She has taken specialized courses focused on population and equity, advocacy in practice, and leadership and youth.
Democratic Republic Of Congo, 2018
Program Coordinator, Youth and Development, Centre d’ Education et formation Intégrée
Lungwe is the Program Coordinator for Youth and Development at Centre d’ Education et formation Intégrée, an organization focused on engaging young people in community development and in the eradication of human rights abuses. In collaboration with her colleagues, Lungwe cultivates dialogue between marginalized persons and local government entities and develops community trainings on advocacy, monitoring, and mobilization. Her areas of focus include community mobilization in rural regions, development of educational toolkits, and engaging women and children who have been affected by armed conflict in advocacy projects directed at government stakeholders. Lungwe has received specialized training on gender-based violence, peacekeeping, and environmental protection.
Lungwe earned her bachelor’s degree in information science from Sikkim Manipal University.
Program Assistant, Disability and Human Rights Program, National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda
Solomon Collins Nkulinga is a Program Assistant with the Disability and Human Rights Program at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), an organization that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. NUPIPU engages with religious, cultural, civic, and political leaders in the region in dialogue around how to cultivate equal rights and access for individuals with disabilities through the enactment of national laws and policy. As a Program Assistant, Nkulinga is responsible for coordinating the Human Rights Project for Refugees with Disabilities, which seeks to improve the quality of life and the access to development services for refugees with disabilities. He has been involved with a mapping project aimed at linking refugees in Western Uganda with disabilities services.
In addition to Nkulinga’s work with NUDIPU, he has chaired the Persons of Concern working group in coordination with UNHCR emphasizing the levels of discrimination and stigma that refugees with disabilities face.
Nkulinga holds a bachelor’s degree in adult and community education from Kyambogo University.
Programs Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda
Pepe Julian Onziema is the Programs Director for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an organization focused on monitoring, coordinating, and advocating for the rights of the LGBTI community in Uganda through influencing legislation, challenging discriminatory laws, and spreading awareness on the status of human rights for individuals identifying as LGBTI in Uganda. As the Programs Director, Onziema is responsible for the coordination and administration of all ongoing programs, including the development, organization, and implementation of fundraising campaigns, mobilization initiatives, and advocacy work. Prior to serving as Programs Director, Onziema was the organization’s co-director and office administrator.
As a longtime advocate for LGBTI rights and as an out transgender man, Onziema is personally connected with the population he is currently serving. He was the recipient of the 2012 Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Global Initiative and received a GLAAD award in 2015.
Onziema holds a diploma in shipping and freight from Kampala College of Business Studies and the Advanced Certificate of Education from Makerere College School.