On September 18, Protection International (PI) supported a diverse assembly of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and civil society organizations who convened at Place des Nations in Geneva, right across from the United Nations. The gathering served as a symbol of unity, as attendees collectively held a banner that celebrated the right to defend human rights safely.
The event was organized to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, a pivotal document ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1998. This Declaration serves as a cornerstone, explicitly outlining the rights of HRDs and the protective measures that States are obligated to provide.
Adapting to Current Realities: Our Call to Update the UN Declaration on HRDs
The celebration served as a platform to address the evolving challenges that human rights defenders have faced over the past quarter-century. PI is part of a collaborative project – along with a coalition of 17 organisations – to analyse the contributions of the Declaration to defenders’ lives and work, as well as progress in international human rights law on the protection of defenders.
One of the outcomes of the project will be the creation of a supplement to the Declaration that will be a civil society-led document taking into account developments in international and regional jurisprudence relating to defenders over the past 25 years and the evolution of human rights movements. It will address key gaps and limitations in the Declaration, and reflect defenders’ lived experiences and needs. With that aim, the coalition is conducting a survey to collect insights and aspirations from defenders across the globe.
This event was possible through the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Ford Foundation. Protection International is proud to support this initiative, committed to ensuring that the Declaration remains a relevant and robust tool for safeguarding the right to defend human rights worldwide.