The image of the traditional human rights activist is one of an individual who leans strongly to the left of politics and rarely leaves the comfort of their own country. Thor Halvorssen is a human rights activist in a completely different mold than his peers in the activism community; the latest in a long line of Venezuelan and Norwegian diplomats and government figures has little interest in the day to day politics that consume many of those who look to raise human rights awareness.
Thor Halvorssen himself looks to the work completed by many of the world’s largest human rights charities and organizations, which have been deeply rooted in western Europe and North America in the 21st century; Halvorssen himself attempts to bring public attention to the issues of people trapped in closed societies, such as North Korea and Vietnam. In fact, during a recent trip to Vietnam to interview a religious leader who has been held under house arrest for more than two decades the University of Pennsylvania alum placed his own body on the line during a vicious beating from local officials when they discovered the true reasons for his visit.
Over the course of his career Thor Halvorssen has looked to develop his own position in the human rights activism that is free from political and financial interference; the Human Rights Foundation Thor established in 2005 accepts donations from individuals and groups who understand their financial gifts do not entitle them to any control over the direction of the foundation. Thor has also looked to change the way human rights activism is seen in the world as he has looked to bring awareness to the role played by socialist governments in diminishing human rights for their citizens. Many activists refuse to condemn governments who lean to the left wing of politics, but Thor Halvorssen believes any loss of human rights should be reported no matter which side of political life a government reflects.