Oleksandra Matviichuk: Fighter par excellence

The Centre for Civil Liberties, which she heads, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022

21-Oleksandra-Matviichuk Leading from the front: Oleksandra Matviichuk (centre, front row) with the CCL team | Center for Civil Liberties

Oleksandra Matviichuk, 40, heads the Centre for Civil Liberties, a human rights organisation in Ukraine. She also coordinates the work of a number of initiatives, such as the group Euromaidan SOS, Prisoner’s Voice, Kyiv Human Rights School, Human Rights Agenda, OZON public monitoring and T4P―Tribunal for Putin.

Established in 2007, the CCL aims at protecting human rights and establishing democracy in Ukraine and the 57 member countries of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It formulates legislative changes, exercises public oversight over law enforcement agencies and judiciary, conducts educational activities for young people and implements international solidarity programmes.

Oleksandra has experience in creating horizontal structures for massive involvement of people in human rights activities against attacks on rights and freedoms, as well as a multi-year practice of documenting violations during armed conflicts. The Euromaidan SOS initiative group was created in response to the brutal dispersal of a peaceful student rally in Kyiv on November 30, 2013. Since 2014, the initiative monitors political persecution in occupied Crimea, documents war crimes and crimes against humanity in the hybrid war in the Donbas.

She is the author of a number of alternative reports to various UN bodies, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE and the International Criminal Court. After the beginning of full blown aggression against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Oleksandra, together with other partners, created the T4P initiative in order to document international crimes under the ICC Statute in Ukraine. One of the latest initiatives is #MakeRussiaPay, a petition which calls for frozen Russian funds of $300 billion be given to Ukraine for war efforts and to rebuild the country.

In 2016, she received the Democracy Defender Award for ‘Exclusive Contribution to Promoting Democracy and Human Rights’ from missions to the OSCE. A year later, she became the first woman to participate in Stanford University’s Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Programme. She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award and was recognised as one of the 25 influential women in the world by the Financial Times in 2022. The same year, the CCL, chaired by Oleksandra, won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first in the history of independent Ukraine.

Courtesy: Centre for Civil Liberties & Mridula Ghosh