Roskilde Festival and human rights

Standing up for human rights is deeply rooted in the Roskilde Festival-dna.

The founders of the first big scale music festival in Roskilde, Sound in 1971, Mogens Sandfær and Jesper Switzer Møller created the event based on their experience from a support concert they had organized to support black civil rights activist, Angela Davis who was imprisoned in the United States. 

Since then human rights has unfolded in many ways. Through the selection of artist, through art and activism and through the debates the many debates. 2016-2018 the theme for the festival was equality and during those three years we discussed gender, corruption, ethnicity, digital surveillance just to give some examples. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, actors from the Norwegian tv-show SKAM and many others have debatted with the festivalgoers. 

Read more here

In 2019 the theme was solidarity. The earnings of that year was donated to young voices. 

Read more here

A new project strives to engage young people in human rights. Knowledge is key. The partners are Amnesty International, The Danish Institute for Human Rights, Mino Danmark, The Danish Youth Council, Ungdomsbureauet and Roskilde Festival.

Accordingly, a group of Danish organisations have taken action and formed a new Human Rights Alliance.

The partners, Amnesty International, The Danish Institute for Human Rights, Mino Danmark, The Danish Youth Council, Ungdomsbureauet and Roskilde Festival, are ganging up to make platforms where you can obtain knowledge and from which grassroot initiatives can be launched.

One example is a project called ‘locker room talks’ where ambassadors of the Human Rights Alliance will visit locker rooms and debate the use of harmful words.

For Roskilde Festival it is only natural to take part in this alliance. Throughout the years, Roskilde Festival has put equality, solidarity and many other words connected to human rights on the agenda. Our profits have been put to use by organisations all over the world and often in direct collaboration with themes presented at the festival.

This year we have launched a collaboration with freemuse focusing on the artistic rights of rappers whose rights in many countries are violated. You can read about the campaign tRAPped on the website

Danes between 18 and 29 years of age are strong believers in human rights. According to a study from Amnesty International from 2019 , more than half of the subjects in this age group are of the opinion that human rights are under no circumstances to be violated.

However, according to another study from Amnesty International carried out the year before, barely half of the Danish youth can name but one single of the 30 articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Jelena Bundalovic is portrayed in the podcast FORSTÆRKET (in Danish only)


The Human Rights Alliance will work strategically in four areas:

  • Knowledge and skills

It is a goal to establish a contemporary language for human rights. In order for this to happen, especially young people need knowledge and skills to understand and reflect on the importance of human rights connected to their own lives and key challenges of society.

  • Resilience

It is a goal to arm young people whose rights are violated with courage to stand up to authorities, work places, religious environments or other young people – and of course arming them with respect for the rights of others.

  • Communities

It is a goal that one person is never alone. All young people need support to be themselves, and all young people need access to healthy communities with room for differences and disagreement. Being met with different attitudes and ways of life strengthen empathy to sympathise with others people’s positions and living conditions.

  • Influence

It is a goal that young people contribute with their visions for society and make an impact on the development of societies. Thus, we will make room for young voices. Young people must be heard in the public debate and their perspectives need to be part of the political conversations. For democracy to the population in its entirety, we need the participation and influence of young people.

Further reading: News story at (In Danish only)

Listen to our podcasts FORSTÆRKET here and Orange Podcast here. Both of them have human rights on the agenda. Alas in Danish only.