Respond – Human Rights Poetry Award 2015/2016

The Universal Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN) based in Vienna, Austria is organizing its very first human rights poetry contest. Given the plights refugees are facing on a daily basis and the current widespread media coverage of the so-called “refugee crisis in Europe” this year’s theme is

“Refugees and their message to Europe”

The deadline has passed. Click here to find out more!

UHRSN is convinced that all people should have the right to a life lived with dignity free from fear, persecution and oppression. As widely reported, people in search of this life seeking asylum in European countries are in many instances denied just that – their fundamental rights. UHRSN also aims to utilize the power of poetry and the positive impact words can have to raise awareness for an issue that cannot be ignored. In this sense the poetry competition was established to provide refugees, migrants, students, sympathisers, etc. with an avenue

  • to create thought-provoking poems by reflecting on their experiences, wishes, dreams and hopes
  • to raise awareness amongst stakeholders, politicians, ordinary EU citizens, etc. on the fate of refugees in- and outside of Europe
  • to demonstrate that #refugees are welcome and advocate for their rights
  • to be creative

Ultimately, the goal of this poetry award is for participants to express themselves by sharing their message with Europe, subsequently, urging leaders and citizens alike to take action and ensure that the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are upheld and that conducive conditions for legal entry procedures for people in need of international protection are established.


The human rights poetry award is open from 30th of September until 20th November. While everyone is permitted to participate, students, migrants and refugees are especially encouraged to take part in the competition. Submissions contrary to the spirit of human rights and the values UHRSN represents and fights for will not be considered. Team members of “Respond” and their family members are not eligible for the poetry competition.


The poems must be in English and cannot be longer than 200 words. All poems have to be submitted through the poetry submission form on


The judging panel consists of UHRSN affiliates and/or members, who have a background in human rights, poetry and/or literature and will be announced shortly.


The best poems as established by the jury are compiled and published on the UHRSN Website and in an e-book.

1st prize – 300 Euros and a certificate

2nd prize – 200 Euros and a certificate

3rd prize – 100 Euros and a certificate

Furthermore chosen poems will be read out live on air on Radio Orange 94.0 – the largest community radio station in German speaking countries. Prior to the public announcement of the winning poems the authors will be notified by UHRSN.


All poems remain the property of the respective artists. By submitting the poem to the UHRSN platform each participant agrees that the poem is published on the UHRSN Website (, and on its affiliated social media accounts. Furthermore, participants agree that the submissions are compiled in an e-Book downloadable from the UHRSN Website and that the poems are distributed and published through the UHRSN partner networks in offline and online digital and print media.


30th September – 20th November: Poems are collected through the UHRSN website.

21th November – 17th December: Poems are distributed to each jury member and evaluated.

18th – 19th December: All Winners are notified by email and their names publicly announced on the UHRSN Website. Pseudonyms are acceptable.

20th December: The winning poems are published on the International Human Solidarity Day on the UHRSN Website.

21st March (World Poetry Day): The E-Book with the best poems is available for download on the UHRSN Website.


The competition is free and there are no fees applicable for sending in poems.

The deadline has passed. Click here to find out more!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a specific format I have to follow?

The maximum length for each poem is 200 words.

  • Do I need to submit the poem under my real name or are pseudonyms acceptable?

Both is possible.

  • How will the prize money be transferred to the winning authors?

We will get in touch with the authors via email to clarify which option is the most suitable.

  • What happens if I miss the deadline?

Unfortunately we cannot accept poems that are submitted after the deadline. We are looking forward to your contributions next year.

  • I have technical difficulties with submitting the poem. How can I contact the support?

Please contact the support directly through our contact form and we will reply within 48 hours.

  • Are UHRSN members or affiliates eligible for participation?

No. All UHRSN members, former members are not eligible for participation. UHRSN contributors (e.g. authors of blog entries) are eligible for participation.

  • Why is the poetry prize limited to English language, while many refugees are not able to speak/write in English?

We are aware of this problem and hope to make the future poetry prize available in other languages such as Spanish, Arabic and Farsi.