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Germany and Singapore embark on Human Rights Logo Initiative

Deborah Choo/

In an unprecendented effort to form and crystalize a unified symbol for human rights, Germany has launched a world wide competition on 3 May in Berlin.

The competition is running from now until 31 July, after which the contest enters the next stage where the panel of juries will select 10 finalists. This selection begins on 6 August and ends 21 August. The 10 logos are then put up for international votes from 27 August to 17 September. A final winnning logo will then be chosen to be the new symbol for human rights. This logo will be made open source for all to use around the world. The logo should be easy to replicate, and embodies a significant meaning behind it.

Singapore is one of the nine partner countries involved.

In promotion of the project, the organizers managed to rope in many well known human rights figures internationally. Two of the heavyweight juries include Aung Sung Suu Kyi from Burma and Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh. Mr Yunus is not only a Bangladeshi economist and founder of the Grameen Bank, he also serves on the board of directors of the United Nations Foundation. (see video)

While I was in Berlin last week, I had the rare pleasure of speaking to Mr Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office. Mr Löning is the spokesperson for the project.

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When was this idea of designing a logo for human rights mooted?

Mr Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office.

Nearly everybody knows that a heart symbolizes love and a white dove means peace. But how can we depict human rights? The answer is simply that we can’t: there is no logo for human rights. But this is about to change with an international design and human rights competition.

The idea came up about two years ago. It has taken a long time until we could finally say, let´s start with the competition. The reason is, that a global competition has never taken place before on such a scale - we had to come up with solutions for many questions.

It is a logo designed for the people, by the people.

What is the main aim of this project?

Besides finally coming up with the Human Rights Logo, we believe that the whole process of creating and finding the Human Rights Logo is already strengthening human rights throughout the world. We notice that people from all around the world discuss design and human rights topics on our platform. Since that discussion is only a little excerpt of the discussion taking place beyond of our platform, we can say that we made many people think about human rights and their importance for our daily lives.

Can you tell me about the partner countries involved in this effort?

The internet platform was created by the nine countries which are running the initiative: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Germany, Mauritius, Senegal, Singapore and Uruguay.

Alongside the Foreign Ministers of the ten partner countries, the jury includes numerous prominent figures, such as the four Nobel Peace Prize winners Aung San Suu Kyi, Shirin Ebadi, Muhammad Yunus and Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, film director Roland Emmerich, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, pop star and peace activist Juanes as well as renowned design experts and other well-known personalities.

Were there obstacles along the way during the organization process?

A project like the human rights logo initiative is a once in a lifetime project. Therefore we had to solve many different problems, expected and unexpected ones. The feedback so far shows that we are on the right way.

How are the responses so far?

The response is amazing. After six weeks we have received more than 5800 logo ideas from more than 180 countries. We are very glad that the people are participating and we believe that the enormous response is already underlining the people´s wish to close the human-rights-logo-gap.

How can Singaporeans contribute to this effort?

We ask all people to participate in the initiative. Submit your logo idea or come to our website where you can comment and rate other ideas submitted. Tell your friends and family about the initiative and include our link in your social media accounts, such as facebook and twitter. We want the people to take the process in their hands, that´s why we ask all people to reach out to their friends and family.

I would like to thank all the people that have already participated – many of them from Singapore!

To learn more about this initiative and perhaps submit a logo idea yourself, click here.

To see a video interview with Mr Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, click here.