On December 11, 2023, Fadel Abdughany, Executive Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), was named as the winner of the 2023 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights. Mr. Abdulghany received the award from Brigitte Curmi, France’s Special Envoy for Syria, on behalf of the French and German governments, in recognition of Human Rights Day, which is observed annually worldwide on December 10, to celebrate the landmark adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on that date in 1948.

The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and Rule of Law aims to honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in the field of defending and promoting human rights and the rule of law at both the local and international levels. Usually, France’s and Germany’s diplomatic missions around the world nominate names for this esteemed award, with winners then being chosen by a special committee.

Below is a written version of the speech delivered by Fadel Abdulghany upon receiving the award:
Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed ambassadors, honorable guests, and fellow human rights advocates,

Today, I stand before you with deep gratitude and great thanks but with an even greater sense of responsibility. I am Fadel Abdulghany, the Executive Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Being present here in this esteemed gathering, participating in this significant celebration, and receiving the Franco- German Human Rights Award is by no means a moment of personal glory, but in fact a token of recognitions for the diligent efforts made by our entire team at the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
First and foremost, I must express my sincere thanks to the Franco-German Award Committee for this prestigious accolade. I also extend my appreciation to the German and French governments for their ongoing support and interest in our work at the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

With the onset of the popular movement in March 2011 and as hundreds were being killed and arrested, I sensed an anxious fear that no one is recording any data on the people being, and such vital information was getting lost. This fear prompted me to found the Syrian Network for Human Rights in June 2011. Over the course of 13 years, we have worked daily, adhering to a rigorous methodology. We built a central database and released figures and reports based on it.

Today, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has become a primary source for many UN entities, such as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (COI), the UN Human Rights Agency (OHCHR), the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), the UNICEF, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and European courts. The Syrian Network for Human Rights was also a source and partner for numerous international organizations, and was also cited in peer-reviewed journals and academic research. Finally, it serves as a source for many countries worldwide and is referenced by local and international media.

Despite our diligent documentation efforts and compelling evidence, impunity remains prevalent in Syria. It is crucial to never forget that the Syrian regime has committed numerous crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people, which stripped the regime any of any sense of legitimacy. All countries worldwide must combat these crimes.
In these moments, we must never forget the anguish and tragedy of the 12 million forcibly displaced, 152,000 arbitrarily detained and/or forcibly disappeared persons, and over a quarter of a million civilian casualties. All of these individuals and their families are waiting for our continuous efforts to hold all perpetrators of violations accountable, most notably and crucially the Syrian regime. We work with and for the victims.

A solution to the Syrian catastrophe cannot be actualized without a collective effort from the international community. The Franco-German partnership, highlighted by this award, is a shining example of such collaboration.

Today, I urge the international community to renew its commitment to finding a political solution that ensures a transition towards democracy in Syria. This commitment requires the international community to be an agent of change rather than merely voices of condemnation.

This award is not just a symbolic token of recognition. Rather, it rejuvenates my commitment to the cause of human rights and achieving democratic transition in Syria. The road to achieving this is long and filled with challenges, but we must persevere until the end, taking inspiration from the courage of the Syrian people to defy tyranny, as well as the millions of victims who are struggling to restore their rights.

Thank you once again for this great honor and your continuous support. I look forward to more discussions and collaboration with you.