Student essay competition 2021

Student essay competition 2021

Call for papers

Award: Travel to the European Court of Human Rights

Candice Imbert, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France (2011)


The Swedish Foundation for Human Rights invites submissions to its third essay competition for Bachelor and Master students from various academic disciplines.

The European regional human rights system, consisting of regional instruments, mechanisms and institutions, plays an important role in the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights. Europe faces many human rights challenges, including migrant rights, minority rights, indigenous people’s rights, LGBTI+ rights, child rights, and sexual and reproductive rights. Turning to peace and security, within the member states of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, there are a number of armed conflicts and disputes over territory, including Ukraine, South Caucasus and Cyprus, while we also find separatist tensions, for example in Spain. The armed conflict in former Yugoslavia is a post-conflict situation that still has bearing on the peace and security situation in the region and the transitional justice process is ongoing.

Regional human rights protection mechanisms and regional intergovernmental organisations have important roles to play in safeguarding human rights, to prevent future abuses, and ultimately to ensure sustainable peace and security. This essay competition aims at examining and exploring the nexus between human rights and peace and security within the European context.

The theme of the essay competition is:

The interlinkages between human rights protection and peace and security, with a regional focus on the European mechanisms and intergovernmental organisations, comprising (but not limited to): the Council of Europe, including the European Court of Human Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights; the European Union, including its Court of Justice and the European External Action Service, and; the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Essays could be on a general level, or for example be delimited to a specific right, conflict, or geographic area, and refer to one or various relevant regional mechanisms and intergovernmental institutions. They must however, relate to the nexus between human rights and peace and security.

We invite students from different academic disciplines to participate, such as (but not limited to): law, political science, peace and conflict studies, human rights studies, gender studies, international relations, development studies, European studies, criminology, anthropology, history and journalism.

The writer of the winning submission will be awarded travel (approximately 4 days, including upkeep and travel insurance) to the European Council and the European Court of Human Rights, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe or equivalent institution in Europe, planned for in the period November 2021 to March 2022.The winner will be accompanying representatives of the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights to a session and, – or event. The finalists will also present their essays at a seminar by the Swedish Network for Transitional Justice, in the fall of 2021. The second and third place will receive one ticket each and train tickets within Sweden to visit the Swedish Forum for Human Rights (Mänskliga Rättighetsdagarna) in Gothenburg, 6-7 December 2021.

Eligibility: The submitter of an essay must be enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s program in a university or other higher learning institution in Sweden. Please note that a certificate of enrolment for the spring or autumn semester 2021 must be attached to the essay submission.

Format: Times New Roman, font size 12, spacing 1,5, margins 2,5 cm. The length of the essay should be 3 000 – 4 000 words. The essay should be written in English.

Please send your submission to by the 3rd of October 2021. Title your e-mail ”Essay Submission”. For further information please contact Fredrik Svensson, Program Manager & International Law Advisor at the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights,


Testimony of Emmy Rosendahl, winner of the essay competition in 2019

Emmy in front of IHRDA’s office in Banjul, a local human rights organisation


The award trip to the NGO-forum in Banjul, Gambia, was a truly exciting experience! It introduced me to new aspects of the human rights situation in Africa. One such aspect was the serious plight and persecution of people suffering from albinism, which was not something I had ever heard much about before.

I also had the chance to meet and listen to human rights advocates from different countries, cultures and professions, as well as to hear about the specific challenges they have faced. It was a great first-hand introduction to the human rights system in Africa and on a whole different level than just reading about it in a book.

Writing the essay was also a very educative experience, as it gave me the opportunity to explore an area of human rights which I was not yet familiar with. Winning the essay competition is a merit which has been acknowledged at several occasions, such as at interviews for job positions.


Testimony of Amalia Ydrefelt, winner of the essay competition in 2020


Participating in the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights’ essay competition was a very rewarding experience! The competition gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into a particular topic and region that really interests me and it was also a good complement to my studies.

Being one of the finalists, I had the opportunity to present and discuss my essay at a seminar together with Swedish Foundation for Human Rights and prominent experts in the field. I found it very exciting to hear their reflections and comments on my essay and it also gave me the opportunity to widen my network.

While we have not yet been able to travel due to COVID-19, I do not regret that I participated in the competition! Lastly, the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights was very helpful throughout the entire process and I am really grateful for having my eyes opened to their organization and work!