In an era marked by the global constriction of civic space, Protection International (PI) is taking a significant step towards the right to defend human rights for human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Great Lakes Region. On the 11th, 12th, and 13th of October, we are organizing a Regional Conference on Public Policies for HRDs in Nairobi, Kenya.
The conference will reunite various stakeholders from the region. HRDs will be attending the event, as well as representatives of national human rights institutions (NHRI) and authorities, in order to exchange good practices and discuss future steps towards stronger public policies for the protection of all HRDs. The conference also aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas concerning the evolving protection environment in the region.
PI Presentations at the Regional Conference on Public Policies for HRDs
Protection International Africa (PIA) is actively engaged in the Great Lakes region through two focused projects. These initiatives aim to influence protection mechanisms and the development of public policies for HRD protection through coordinated regional advocacy and monitoring actions.
Different PI colleagues will be presenting key elements of our work over the past years on public policies. The program includes opening remarks from PIA and our partners present, as well as the presentation of our case study on public policies in the DRC. We will discuss good practices and steps towards the inclusion of more marginalized groups of HRDs, as well as protection practices and needs in Great Lakes region. There will also be room for experience sharing and learning from and with each other.
Declaration +25 Consultation in the Regional Conference on Public Policies for HRDs in Nairobi
As part of the conference agenda, PI is collaborating with the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) to facilitate a consultation on the Declaration +25. This joint effort is integral to an ongoing project aimed at scrutinizing the impact of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on the lives and work of defenders. Simultaneously, it assesses the advancements in international human rights law concerning the protection of defenders.
The consultation is not just a meeting; it’s a structured discussion within the larger framework of the collaborative project. The project’s ultimate goal is to craft a supplementary document to the UN Declaration, led by civil society. This document will be a comprehensive reflection of the developments in international and regional jurisprudence concerning defenders over the past 25 years. It will address critical gaps and limitations in the existing Declaration while authentically capturing the lived experiences and needs of defenders. In essence, it’s a proactive response to evolving challenges and realities faced by those on the front lines of defending human rights.
Creating space for collaboration and change
This conference is not just a gathering; it is a catalyst for change. The collective advocacy and communications actions will place the topic of effective public policies for HRDs into the spotlight at local, national, and international levels. By doing so, the conference becomes a pivotal part of the broader advocacy strategy aiming to influence regional protection networks, protection working groups, and national human rights coalitions.
Furthermore, the conference will lay the groundwork for the formation of protection working groups in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. These groups are envisioned to play a vital role in influencing protection mechanisms in their respective countries. The goal is clear: coordinated regional advocacy, rapid response, and shared information on emerging trends in HRDs’ security, all communicated effectively to key stakeholders.
As Protection International and its partners gather in Nairobi for the Regional Conference on HRD Public Policies, the event serves not just as a meeting point but as a beacon of hope. It symbolizes a collective commitment to bolstering the resilience and protection of those who courageously defend human rights in the face of adversity. The ripple effects of this conference are expected to transcend borders, fostering a united front for the safeguarding of human rights defenders across the Great Lakes Region.