HRDs being interviewed by journalists


AHRI Conference 2023: Our commitment to advance the defense of Human Rights

11 September 2023

Protection International had an active role in the 2023 International Conference of the Association of Human Rights Institutions (AHRI), hosted by the University of Deusto. The event took place the first week of September in Bilbao, Spain. Themed “Human Rights Defenders under Siege,” the conference served as a critical platform for dialogue between human rights defenders and academia. PI was invited to play a pivotal role in shaping the conference topics and proposing a range of key speakers and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

Declaration +25 Consultation

In the lead-up to the conference, PI co-organized a consultation on the Declaration +25 in conjunction with the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute. The consultation was organized in the framework of an ongoing collaborative project to analyze the contributions of the UN 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 UN 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, addressing key gaps and limitations in the Declaration, and reflecting defenders’ lived experiences and needs. The consultation sessions in Bilbao convened approximately sixty HRDs and discussions were held in English and Spanish.

PI’s Participation During the AHRI Conference and Academic Contributions

Several members of the PI team participated in the conference as speakers. Alice Nah, Chairperson of PI’s Board, delivered a keynote address during one of the plenary sessions, discussing the role of academia in the support of human rights defenders. She also participated in a panel on Enabling Environment, speaking about the importance of human rights defenders’ psychosocial support, self-care, and overall well-being.

The PI team had the opportunity to present three scholarly papers during the conference, contributing to the robust exchange of ideas and strategies aimed at defending human rights globally:

  1. Protection of human rights defenders as a complex political problem: implications on public policies, presented in the panel “Strategies to counter shrinking civic spaces”.
  2. A scoping review and key factors for building an enabling environment for the defense of human rights, as part of the panel “Strategies for building an enabling environment for HRDs”.
  3. How intersectionality can inform protection programs for HRDs: An overall view and itinerary proposed by Protection International, presented in the “Gender, intersectionality and HRDs” panel.

PI also participated in the Scientific Committee, working closely with professors of the Institute for Human Rights Pedro Arrupe at the University of Deusto.

The Conference hosted around 160 participants from different countries. We extend our gratitude to the Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute of the University of Deusto and to AHRI Network for their partnership, as well as to all the human rights defenders and civil society organizations and movements that participated and contributed to a fruitful exchange.

For more information on the conference, please visit AHRI Conference 2023.