At times something bursts inside of us. The burning forces us to stand up and walk in a new direction. Some hear it as an inner voice, others see it as a dream.
In 2006, after working as a journalist for more than a decade, I was “captured” by the cause of Human Rights and Social Change. I joined Amnesty International and served as the Director of Communication & Publications and as a board member of Art for Amnesty. Art for Amnesty is an important global project which allows artists of all disciplines to become involved in raising awareness of human rights issues and to lend their voices for Amnesty International campaigns. Separately, I was personally involved in the publication and worldwide distribution of the novel (based on a true story of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, Israel) “Before we say Goodbye” from its inception in 2004.
Through this novel I began to explore the impact of literature on human rights activism – a topic which I continue to explore to this day. In 2008 I was asked to write the foreword to the book ”Freedom” (a collection of Short Stories celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Amnesty International). This foreword was dedicated to this unique and important topic and was warmly received by readers in many countries. After several very successful years with Amnesty International I have decided to embark on a new and challenging journey. I have become a ‘Social Entrepreneur’ and in July 2011 have founded a company – Novel Rights.
Novel Rights mission is to create innovative, special arts projects for Human Rights and Social Change Organizations. The global and local experience I gained over the past several years has created an understanding of the needs of these organizations and the challenges they encounter every day. My professional experience in creating, producing and leading arts projects is the basis for my plan in which human rights arts projects will provide the platform for human rights organizations.
My experience in the arts world includes global and local collaborations with various artists of all disciplines – authors, photographers, painters, actors , musicians and more. I organised a special concert collaboration between Amnesty International Israel and the late Argentine singer, Mercedes Sosa, dedicated to women’s rights. Sosa received a special prize to mark her life legacy in promoting women rights during what was to become her last tour in Israel (2008). This collaboration covered in many counties – especially Latin America and was a source of pride both to her fans and human rights supporters.
I have had a rich experience in producing art exhibitions, high-profile events, high level publications and marketing/advertising campaigns that were uses by Amnesty International Sections around the world. I also lead Amnesty International-Israel’s two year ‘branding’ process.
I have written opinion columns and screen plays for TV and have given lectures in Universities, Colleges, Book Fairs and to NGO’s in the world.
Vered Cohen Barzilay, Founder & Director of Novel Rights
Bill Shipsey is the founder of Art for Amnesty – Amnesty International´s global artist engagement programme. He initiated and has produced Amnesty’s Ambassador of Conscience Award – an accolade that has been bestowed on such diverse activists as Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Peter Gabriel and U2.
Shipsey was Co-Executive Producer of “Instant Karma” – Amnesty’s multi-star benefit album of John Lennon compositions. He devised and produced the Small Places Tour, a 2008 music concert project which partnered with over 800 concerts in some 40 countries worldwide. Shipsey first joined Amnesty in the late 1970s – inspired in part by the activism of entertainers, who performed at the Monty Python inspired „Secret Policeman’s Ball“ benefit show.
From 2009-2011 he oversaw the participation of Amnesty on U2’s global 360°-tour of 110 concerts, which included the announcement of Aung San Suu Kyi as Ambassador of Conscience Award winner in 2009 by Bono from the stage at Croke Park in Dublin.
On 18 June 2012 he produced ‘Electric Burma’ a concert in honour of Burmese Leader Aung San Suu Kyi featuring Bono, Damien Rice, Lupe Fiasco, Bob Geldof, Angelique Kidjo and others.
In September 2013 he produced the Ambassador of Conscience Award Ceremony honouring Harry Belafonte and Malala Yousafzai.
He has consulted widely with other human rights organisations around the world seeking to partner with artists in the promotion of human rights campaigns. In November 2013, he became Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation. He also serves on the Board of the Boroumand Foundation for Human Rights in Iran.
Bill Shipsey, Special Adviser, Novel Rights
Human Rights are not more than a collection of 30 ‘articles in a declaration’ – it’s a perspective and a way of life.
Since my activism days as a teenage to my latest role at Amnesty International, I have dedicated my work to the promotion of Human Rights. In my journey I have met, touched, supported and been supported, cooperated and engaged with many activists and groups. In their struggle, these brave people made a real impact on the lives and realities of individuals as well as communities in the societies they operate within. In face of injustice, indifference and oppression these inspirational people never gave up and taught me on the power of the human spirit and determination.
In January 2013 I joined Novel Rights as a Co-Director. My goal is to lead Novel Right so that we can fulfill our mission: make a powerful impact on both Human Rights and Literature through bonding art with social change and human rights.
Beyond my conviction for the idea of arts and human rights, I bring to Novel Rights my high level management skills: extensive hands-on strategic, operational, programmatic and financial management experience, endless energy, motivation, and proven success initiating campaigns and projects. I am innovative, creative, and results-orientated professional, with strong communication and interpersonal skills, and proven ability to surpass targets within deadline, regardless of pressure.
My professional resume includes complex and challenging high level positions. My last role was Head of International Mobilization Trust in Amnesty International (AI) wherein I led and managed a change process in AI’s global funding and support system. My responsibilities and achievements in this position were, among many: spearheaded the successful planning and management of funding cycles for the global operation of Amnesty International; leading and managing transition and change process of AI’s funding mechanism ; leading and managing organizational and financial planning, evaluating, monitoring and reporting and many more.
My educational resume is also rich with a verity of Social Sciences and Human Rights studies: at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – MSc. in Human Rights with Merit at the Sociology Department, The Centre For Study of Human Rights; at Tel Aviv University – MA in Sociology and BA (HONOURS) in Sociology and Political Science; at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – an annual Activists Programme: Human Rights -Theory And Practice at the Minerva Center for Human Rights.
Yael Weisz-Rind, Co-Director of Novel Rights
High concept, high quality literature has the unique ability to promote empathy and knowledge in tandem. I am honoured to be part of the Novel Rights team.
I am an Alaskan-Cornish-Jewish editor, author and illustrator based in London. Lately I’ve illustrated and edited books with philosophic content for all ages, founded and run The Camden Creative Colony, a professional writer’s group while giving guest lectures at universities around Europe.
I joined the team due to the hard won fact that Novel Rights works tirelessly. They work tirelessly to develop quality platforms to support authors who inspire both empathy and knowledge in multicultural audiences. Then, Novel Rights work even harder to bring those authors to the stage, using global literature to stimulate dialogue and create opportunities for Human Rights discussions to develop around the world. My PhD research into Human Rights in Literature coupled with experience in publishing, education and international medical outreach work has led me to realise what kind of activist I am: one that supports the arts. Not just any art, though. Most importantly, art that is both meaningful and beautiful, art of quality and based on purpose. In short, literature that inspires both empathy and knowledge.
Tamar Levi, Illustrator and editor at Novel Rights
Hagit is an artist and a professional industrial designer; she owned a graphic design agency for a decade. Three years ago she sold her shares to her partner to follow a new challenging way, with Novel Rights. Hagit specialized in creating eBooks and online marketing.
Hagit Schechter, Design, technology and online marketing at Novel Rights
Human Rights Literature is a way to illustrate the concept, importance and beauty of human rights to anyone using the power of story telling. It makes Human Rights accessible and understandable and thats why story-telling bears the power to move people. Literature is therefore an extremly important tool for the international human rights movement – it educates and it engages people to become part of it. At the same time, it is writers who are very important for the international human rights movement – without them, the stories never get told and the wealth of knowledge is never used to its potential.
I myself am passionate about human rights, have dedicated my career to it, and therefore joined Novel Rights and its mission.
I come from a country, where people like to read – Germany. German people, just like many others around the world, are generally very willing to engage themselves and to assist those in need once they learn about a certain distressing story. However, that direct link between literature, story-telling, and that general willingness to assist and move for change has until now not been made expressly. This link is the basis of Novel Rights existence and I am very excited indeed to be taking Novel Rights’ mission to Germany and building a German section there.
Once the link between literature and human rights has been communicated everywhere, I believe that the general understanding of and engagement for human rights will increase on one hand and that literature and authors will be viewed as the source of knowledge that we need for change to happen.
Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green, Novel Rights German Section coordinator