Thor Halvorssen: Not Your Typical Human Rights Activist

Thor Halvorssen is not your typical human rights activist. Dubbed a “Troublemaker for Tyrants” by the Weekly Standard, the Venezuelan-born, New York based Halvorssen is on a crusade to stop human rights abuses. His approach and focus, however, are somewhat different than those of most activists. Halvorssen, who comes from an elite Venezuelan political family with Norwegian roots, heads up the Human Rights Foundation, which he helped found in 2005.

He himself put his life at risk, himself being detained and beaten in Vietnam after interviewing a Buddhist religious leader. Learn more about Thor Halvorssen:

But the intrepid activist is sometimes not very much at home in the decidedly left-wing world of human rights due to his unapologetic stances against abusive leftist regimes in Latin America. To him, it makes more sense to concentrate on countries outside of the West which are not monitored as closely as other states.

Thor Halvorssen is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in History and Political Science. After complete he education, one of his first efforts in the human rights arena was staging an effort at a Lucent Technologies shareholders meeting to end the use of slave labor in the manufacture of its Chinese-made products.

Before founding the Human Rights Foundation, Halvorssen was executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which brought traditionally progressive and conservative groups together in the pursuit of freedom of expression in education. As the founder of the HRF, he has been active in supporting Chinese dissidents, such as Nobel-Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who selected Thor Halvorssen as his honor guest in the Xiaobo’s absence.