Launched in 2020, the Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative is a protection programme for human rights defenders. Human rights need to be protected. And it’s not uncommon for people advocating for these rights to face danger and then need protection themselves.

The Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative provides human rights defenders at risk with a safe place to recuperate, cope with trauma, and when possible, to network and further develop their professional skills. The initiative is named after the politician and lawyer Dr. Elisabeth Selbert (1896-1986). As one of four women to contribute to the German constitution, called the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, she is also known as one of 'the Mothers of the Basic Law'. She vigorously campaigned for the principle of equality to be anchored within the Basic Law, thereby making an important contribution to the protection of human rights in Germany.

Whom is the Programme designed for?

With the Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative, ifa supports prominent actors at the forefront of human rights protection. The initiative provides temporary residence for those who, due to their peaceful commitment to human rights, are threatened with physical and psychological violence, arrest, occupational disqualification, and even murder. These include ethnic minority groups fighting for land rights, women defending themselves against discrimination and violence, LGBTIQ+ activists campaigning for their right to sexual identity, or journalists exposing cases of corruption. ifa provides human rights defenders at risk with temporary residence in Germany or a secure third country.

The Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by ifa. In so doing, ifa strives to work closely with civil society organisations. The application process is currently being developed and will be posted here soon.


Elke Schäfter

Linienstraße 139/140
D-10115 Berlin

Susanne Wienke

Linienstraße 139/140
D-10115 Berlin

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