Aaron Rhodes

Human rights advocate, President of the Forum for Religious Freedom - Europe

Aaron Rhodes (Aaron Anthony Rhodes; born 1949) is an international human rights activist, university lecturer and essayist based in Hamburg, Germany. He is a co-founder of the Freedom Rights Project, a human rights research initiative and think-tank, which documents and analyzes trends including the inflation, dilution and politicization of human rights in international law. He is also President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe, an independent nongovernmental organization. Rhodes served as Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) between 1993 and 2007, during which period the IHF was engaged inter alia in human rights challenges in the Balkans, in Chechnya, and in Central Asia, and the organization expanded significantly. He was active in civil society campaigns vis a vis the Human Dimension of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations. He has also been involved with human rights issues in a number of Middle Eastern countries. In 2008, after the closure of IHF due to an economic crime, he helped found and became Policy Adviser to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a project of the Netherlands-based NGO Bridging the Gulf-Foundation for Human Security in the Middle East. He has also undertaken human rights investigations in Cuba, Japan, Korea, Pakistan and elsewhere. Rhodes was educated at Reed College and in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where he was awarded a PhD. After serving in political and governmental positions in Chicago and Illinois, he became Assistant to the President of Boston University John Silber. He moved to Vienna in 1991 to work on projects for educational reform in Eastern Europe initiated by the Institute for Human Sciences (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen). Rhodes was born in rural Upstate New York, the son of Lillyan and Daniel Rhodes. He has two sons, Daniel and Nathan, by his first wife Sara Silverman Rhodes, who died in 2001. He and his second wife Anna Sunder-Plassmann have two daughters, Leah and Rivkah. In 2008, Rhodes was made an honorary citizen of Austria for his “contributions to the Republic.” He was awarded a Public Service Citation by the University of Chicago in 2009.