Thor Halvorsen is an energetic salesman in the human rights movement. As the director of the Human Rights Foundation, he is the person responsible for the enthusiastic Oslo Freedom Forum, although he would much rather be behind the scenes creating networking opportunities for others in the human rights movement than on stage at the event, according to a recent article in Buzzfeed.
Thor comes by his interest in human rights quite naturally. He is the grandson of a man who moved the family from Norway to Venezuela so that he could serve as a counsel to the king and work with industry considering opening in Venezuela. As his father came of age, he also started working for the government.
His father soon discovered incontrovertible evidence that the new Venezuelan government leaders were involved in money laundering. The government had his father arrested while Thor was attending the Penn University in the United States.
Thor Halvorssen worked with Amnesty International and other human rights organizations who were able to get his father released after 74 days. Thor claims that the Venezuelan government had his mother shot, although she recovered.
While still in school, Thor edited a student newspaper called the Red and Blue that frequently exposed human rights violations around the globe. After graduation, his first job was with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Thor describes himself as a classical liberal. He draws an annual salary of $85,000 from the Human Rights Foundation. The foundation receives funds from all sides of the political circle. Some of those funders include Google’s founder Sergey Brin, the Norway government, Brookings Institution Museum, Autism Speaks and the American Himalayan Foundation. He makes it very plain to these donors that they get no control over his foundation.
According to Weekly Standard and BizJournals, Thor Halvorssen maintains that he has no interest in politics and works extremely hard to keep his private life private. He speaks English, Spanish, Portugal and French fluently. He admits that he can understand Norwegian.
Thor’s most dedicated, however, to seeing that the annual Oslo Freedom Foundation is a success. This event draws 450 people from 57 countries each year. Many of them have their own human rights violation story to tell.
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