HRDs being interviewed by journalists


Position paper: “Towards a Safe and Enabling Environment for the Right to Defend Human Rights”

9 January 2024

In recent years, the global landscape has witnessed a concerning erosion of democratic values and civil rights, which has resulted in human rights defenders (HRDs) facing increasing challenges. Factors such as rising authoritarianism and the influence of non-state entities have contributed to restricting civil society’s role in shaping societal affairs. In this position paper, Protection International (PI) analyses the concept of “enabling environment” and its implications for the right to defend human rights (RDHR).

An enabling environment, pivotal for the RDHR, encapsulates legal frameworks, societal norms, and freedoms enabling individuals to advocate for change. The concept of “enabling environment” leads to an all-encompassing approach to the RDHR, underlining the importance of both the State’s primary responsibility in safeguarding HRDs and contextual factors (e.g. a cohesive civil society network and generalized support for the work of HRDs) that may contribute to an environment in which the RDHR can be exercised safely by everyone.

The paper outlines strategic approaches for fostering a conducive environment, emphasizing the need for systemic thinking, political will-building, and engagement across multiple governance levels. By applying a historical, power-informed, gender-sensitive, and intersectional approach, this comprehensive exploration aims to provide insights into overcoming barriers to the RDHR and creating a safer space for HRDs to operate effectively.

To explore these critical insights further and delve into actionable strategies, please read the full paper here.

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