The Awards for bravery, creativity and ability to bring about a change.

The Icebreakers Awards is the first civic engagement and human rights activism prize that focuses principally on Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia*. 

It aims to honor people and organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to civic activism — and especially defending human rights — by their bravery, creativity and ability to bring about a change.


*Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. 

The Icebreakers Awards are intended to show appreciation and boost morale among activists in the region by publicly demonstrating that their work is valued. At the same time, by highlighting successful cases, the Awards are meant to inspire and motivate civil society, both in the region and beyond.

The project will bring real faces of inspiring and brave people and the real stories of change-making projects closer to the European public. This way it will raise their knowledge of — and solidarity with — activists in the region.


Founder: The Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights


The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) is an independent NGO whose mission is to participate in building, strengthening and defending the standards of the rule of law, constitutional democracy, and respect for human rights and freedoms in Poland and abroad.

HFHR works with several cross-sectoral
NGO coalitions in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia to address human rights concerns. Also, we’ve developed a strategic litigation programme of human rights cases in Eurasia.

Recently, we have launched rapid response mechanisms for human rights defenders in crisis situations. HFHR provides direct support to activists from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in the form of legal aid or temporary relocation.  We offered grants to increase the security of NGOs in the region or to improve the living conditions for activists.

The HFHR was officially established in 1989 and since then we have been protecting human rights from any authorities violations. 



WATCH DOCS. Human Rights In Film International Film Festival

Since 2001, The HFHR has been organizing the WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film, one of the largest human rights film festivals in the world, presenting documentaries which combine commitment to social issues and individual rights with film art. 

During Warsaw-based WATCH DOCS one can watch dozens of premiere screenings and participate in meetings with world-renowned documentary filmmakers. The festival features master classes,  Q&As and panel debates with experts, human rights defenders, publicists and politicians.

The WATCH DOCS is one of the founding members of Human Rights Film Network and acts as a strategic partner of
WATCH DOCS Belarus founded in 2015.


The festival is also an organizational platform for a touring WATCH DOCS festival and the FUTURE DOCS project. 

Moreover, WATCH DOCS is a social movement: every year over one hundred volunteers are involved in organizing the international part of the festival in more than 30 cities in Poland. 

The wordplay of ‘watchdog’ and ‘watch docs’ (documentaries) expresses the mission of the festival: strong connection between the civil society activists (watchdogs) and documentaries portraying the world around them. 

The Icebreakers Award Ceremony will be held alongside the WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film.

Back To Top

Icebreakers Awards 2021