The 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum explored numerous topics,
including a spotlight on the many forms of modern-day slavery; exposés on how Western
public relations firms, IT, and arms companies support dictatorships; the drug
war’s impact on human rights; a focus on the burgeoning democracy movement in
Russia; perspectives on fighting poverty through individual rights; an
examination of global censorship; and a discussion on the state of the Arab
The inaugural Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent was
awarded at the 2012 event. The laureates included Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif.
2012 speakers included Google Ideas principal Scott Carpenter; Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif; Canadian jurist
and lawmaker Irwin Cotler; Pakistani women’s rights champion Asma Jahangir;
British journalist Nick Cohen; Internet freedom pioneer Rebecca MacKinnon;
Syrian opposition organizer Ausama Monajed; and Russian performance artist and
activist Pyotr Verzilov.