Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders expose violations and campaign for redress for victims. They are the people who on their own or with others take action to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights for all. The important thing is not who they are, but what they do. Human rights defenders take peaceful action and believe everybody has equal rights.

Human rights defenders include:
•Journalists exposing human rights violations
•Community workers teaching human rights education
•Trade unionists defending workers' rights
•Women working for the promotion of reproductive rights
•Environmentalists highlighting the impact of development projects on Indigenous Peoples land rights

Human rights defenders are individuals, groups of people or organizations who promote and protect human rights through peaceful and non-violent means.


•uncover violations
•subject violations to public scrutiny
•press for those responsible to be accountable
•empower individuals and communities to claim their basic entitlements as human beings.

Throughout history, courageous and visionary people have sought to extend the boundaries of human rights protection to those outside its boundaries, whether it be those living in slavery, workers unprotected against exploitation or women denied the vote.

Today, despite international laws that protect them, human rights defenders are needed all over the world to monitor and challenge abuses and violations.

Because of this work, human rights defenders face a range of challenges. In many countries they are:

•subjected to death threats and torture
•persecuted through the use of the judicial system
•silenced by restrictive laws
•disappear or are murdered.

This is why human rights defenders need our support.

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

The mandate on the situation of human rights defenders was established in 2000 by the Commission on Human Rights (as a Special Procedure) to support implementation of the 1998 Declaration on human rights defenders.

In 2008, with resolution 7/8 and in 2011, with resolution 16/5, the Human Rights Council, decided to continue the mandate on human rights defenders for consecutive periods of three years.


Justice, Human rights, Geneva, geneva4justice, GICJ, Geneva International Centre For Justice 

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