Protecting human rights during the pandemic

A discussion with the ambassadors of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland

Tags for Protecting human rights during the pandemic

National flags fly side-by-side on tall flag poles.

News release details

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) will host a free online event next week to explore how the global pandemic has put human rights at risk.

Ambassadors to Canada from the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden will participate in this live, interactive event. They will discuss Nordic experiences and the need for global vigilance and cooperation to combat the effects of COVID‐19. The four ambassadors (see bios below) will also invite audience discussion about the pandemic’s potential to erode international cooperation, diminish access to reliable information, set back efforts for gender equality and sexual/reproductive rights, and affect the right to education.

“Despite all the closed borders, it’s important to strengthen international cooperation,” said Swedish ambassador Urban Ahlin. “Nationalistic and protectionist attitudes can put human rights at risk. For example, it’s not enough to simply vaccinate in our own countries. Everyone on this planet needs to be vaccinated because we’re all in this together.”

WHAT: Human rights and the pandemic: an online discussion with Nordic ambassadors to Canada

WHEN: Tuesday, January 19, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. CST

WHERE: Live on Zoom (online). Please register in advance. Free.

This special event is being held in honour of Raoul Wallenberg Day. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat and humanitarian who risked his life to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from persecution and death during the Holocaust. In 1985, he became Canada’s first honorary citizen and, in 2001, the Government of Canada designated January 17 as Raoul Wallenberg Day. A life‐sized, illuminated image of Wallenberg can be found in the CMHR’s “Turning Points for Humanity” gallery – part of an exhibit about Canada’s five honorary citizens.

About the presenters

Her Excellency Hanne Fugl Eskjær, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark

Eskjær was previously the Arctic Ambassador and Head of the North America Department in Copenhagen. She has also served as ambassador to Bangladesh. For the past 22 years, she held various Ministry of Foreign Affairs positions throughout the world, including in Denmark, Syria, Prague, New York, and Canada. Eskjær has also worked as Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner for Human Rights and Democracy of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and as Associate Professor at the Institute of Political Science, Copenhagen University.

His Excellency Roy Eriksson, Ambassador of Finland

Eriksson has been Finland’s ambassador to Canada since 2019. He previously served as the ambassador to Mexico and Central America. Eriksson has served in different departments of Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including the Department for Americas and Asia, where he was Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also served in Turkey, Germany and the Finnish Permanent Mission to the European Union in Brussels. He holds a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Helsinki.

His Excellency Jon Elvedal Fredriksen, Ambassador of Norway

Fredriksen was formerly a diplomatic advisor to the Prime Minister of Norway, as well as Norway’s ambassador to Ukraine and Consul General of Norway in Murmansk, Russia. He has extensive experience with Arctic affairs and security policy. Fredriksen is a graduate of the University of Tromsø, Norway in Russian studies, world literature and structural linguistics. He has also studied in Germany and trained as an officer with the Engineer Corps of the Norwegian Army.

His Excellency Urban Ahlin, Ambassador of Sweden

Ahlin previously served as a politician representing the Swedish Social Democratic Party and has held the position of Speaker of the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen). He was a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2018, serving with the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, the War Delegation, and as Deputy Head of the Swedish delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Ahlin was also a founding member of the first pan‐European think‐tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). He was educated as a teacher at the University of Karlstad.

Event moderator

The discussion will be moderated by Vivek Krishnamurthy, an expert on human rights challenges in cyberspace as a law professor at the University of Ottawa and director of the Samuelson‐Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. 

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry