Thor Halvorssen is one of the good ones. During his teenage years in London back in 1989 he was busy organizing protest movements against the South Africa apartheid, a very impressive feat for a teenager. Today he still champions for the underdogs and the powerless, only this time as the President of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). He is also the CEO and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, an international human rights group that meets once a year and has been described as a “spectacular human rights-festival” by the Economist.
The 39 year old half-Norwegian, half-Venezuelan, was born in Caracas but now lives in New York City where he runs his Human Rights Foundation Standing up for human rights is in Thor’s blood. His grandfather is known for being on the Norwegian king’s consul and guiding Norway’s merchant fleets away from the Nazi’s to safety in Venezuela. Fighting the Nazi’s certainly qualifies a human rights cause if there ever was one. His grandmother was a decedent of the first female President of Venezuela and devoted her life to civil causes. Thor Halvorssen understands that human rights is not open for negotiation, it is the foundation.
Halvorssen has experienced the hardship that comes can come with standing up for what’s right first hand. His mother was shot at a Hugo Chavez rally. His father was locked up and tortured in Venezuela after exposing government corruption while working as the countries drug czar. Thor has felt the pain first hand and is no stranger to the violence that can come with the cause. In 2010 while visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Thor was beaten badly by Vietnamese authorities in response to him trying to interview the illegal Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s new leader, Thich Quang Do. Halvorssen doesn’t just walk the walk, he talks the talk.
Despite the hardships inflicted on him and his family, Thor is a genuinely happy person. Some human rights activists seem to fall into a morbid set of mood over time, Thor has kept his love of people at the helm which he credits to being happy. Learn more about Thor Halvorssen by visiting his Crunchbase profile.