Colin Gonsalves: Right Livelihood Award recognizes “vibrancy of the social movements”

AID Congratulates Colin Gonsalves, Supreme Court advocate and founder of the Human Rights Law Network on the occasion of receiving the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of his decades of work securing and upholding rights of India’s marginalized and vulnerable people, and defending activists facing state repression.

At the Embassy of Sweden in India, Colin Gonsalves expressed his thoughts on receiving the award:  “Apart from what it means to me personally …. what it means for the people of India, the NGOs and the human rights organizations that are fighting for the defense of democracy in this country, it’s a recognition of the importance of their struggle at a very difficult time in India’s history, where there are huge problems in this country.  So I see it more as a recognition of the vibrancy and the spiritualism of the social movements in our country.”

Founded by Colin Gonsalves in 1983, the Human Rights Law Network has advocated for the rights of oppressed and marginalized communities to basic rights.  In the landmark Right to Food case of 2001, Human Rights Law Network represented the People’s Union of Civil Liberties and argued successfully that the right to food was a constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental right.  This decision benefited hundreds of millions of people depending on Integrated Child Development Services, mid-day meals, and subsidized rations.

From interior forest villages to bustling metropolises, social workers and community organizers facing state repression have come to HRLN, which has consistently defended their rights and enabled them to fight another day for the causes of justice and democracy for the poor and the vulnerable including Adivasis, Dalits, women, children, elderly, disabled and religious or sexual minorities.

The Right Livelihood Award is also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Citation from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation: 

Colin Gonsalves is amongst the most complete human rights lawyers of his generation. He is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and the founder and director of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), an Indian national network of public interest lawyers. Over three decades, HRLN’s lawyers have engaged in public interest litigation to hold the government to account and secure a broad spectrum of human rights.

Press Release from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation


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