We are celebrating this year 2018 the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, a fundamental tool for the protection and recognition of human rights defenders. For Protection International, this is the occasion to make a step forward in the protection of human rights defenders and call for the long-needed recognition of the collective dimension of human rights work.


Together for a different narrative on human rights defenders!

In the year that marks the 20th Anniversary of the UN declaration on HRDs we are experiencing an unprecedented backlash against human rights, which makes the environment surrounding defenders increasingly hostile.

In a context of smear campaigns against HRDs that legitimize attacks against them and foster impunity, Protection International wishes to contribute to a changed narrative on human rights defenders, towards a greater recognition of the collective aspect of their work and achievements.

Under the slogan and hastag #CommunitiesareHRDs, we can build together a new narrative on HRDs where everybody can protect human rights and support human rights work. Human nights work is not done by ‘heroes’ but by ordinary people gathering together around a human rights cause.

What we mean by "communities"

Our campaign's slogan "Communities are HRDs!" refers to communities as collective groups in a broad sense, i.e. groups fighting together for  and defending the respect of human rights:

  • social groups living together
  • spontaneous and structured coalitions gathering around specific issues of concern
  • groups of people who share common identities, such as indigenous or LGBTIQ communities
  • professional categories (such as lawyers or journalists)
  • civil society organisations and movements

What we aim at

More specifically, Protection International aims to

  • mobilise all actors and notably decision makers to understand better and support a collective approach to human rights work
  • advocate for collective protection in public policies 
  • highlight the importance of women HRDs and their key role in communities
  • strengthen the human rights movement as a whole and empower collective groups to change the narrative on HRDs
  • promote an understanding on the UN Declaration on HRD and its link with other international human rights instruments


Let's get started!

What is next for security and protection of human rights defenders? #rethinkingprotection

Last December 2017, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on HRDs, Protection International and the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) of the University of York organised an international roundtable tto reflect collectively on the way security and protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) can be further strengthened. The event gathered HRDs, practitioners, academics and policy makers from all continents, allowing them to challenge established protection approaches, tools and practices.

See the report and the video of the event here!



Human Rights Awards beyond heroes: the recognition of the collective dimension of human rights struggles 

Awards given to human rights defenders represent a fantastic acknowledgement of their work and an incomparable way to raise awareness on outstanding achievements. For their immense value, Protection International calls on protection actors and award-giving entities to go beyond the recognition of individual heroic figures of individual HRDs and promote collective human rights awards that strengthen communities, organisations and movements.




Key publications and events

During this very special year, Protection International releases key publications contributing to raising awareness on "collective protection", on how to make progress for better public policies to protect human rights and for advancing the right to defend human rights.


The Time is NOW - Effective public policies for the right to defend human rights

In view of the high number of attacks against human rights defenders in the Americas (and the rest of the world), ES TIEMPO YA - THE TIME IS NOW tries to find out what is going wrong with the national mechanisms and programs that several governments in the region have put in place to protect them. Protection International and CEJIL bring together their experience in the region and contribute with a novel approach, offering new possibilities to improve protection policies.







Collective Protection on Human Rights Defenders of the Right to Land and Territory - Conceptual Developments and Methodological Challenges

The high level of risk faced by HRDs, CSOs and communities, particularly those living and operating in remote rural areas, the growing attention given to the issue of collective protection by Colombian jurisprudence such as the human rights community; and the need to expand the focus of HRD protection beyond government programmes, have motivated Protección International and Pensamiento y Acción Social (PAS) to undertake this research on collective protection measures for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society organisations (CSOs) and their communities struggling for the right to land and territory.