Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders: an essential guide to the right to defend human rights

Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

The Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders is a key document aimed at supporting those who stand for human rights by increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.

About the Commentary

Despite the efforts to implement the Declaration on human rights defenders, human rights defenders continue to face numerous violations. More than 22 years after its adoption, the Declaration is an instrument that is not sufficiently known. The Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders, is aguide aimed at raising awareness about the Declaration and the crucial role of human rights defenders. It aims to contribute to the development of a safer and more conducive environment for defenders to be able to carry out their work.

The Commentary is a 100-page downloadable document that maps out the rights provided for in the Declaration, based mostly on information received and reports produced by two Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani (2000-2008) and Margaret Sekaggya (2008-2014)

From the rights to protection and freedom of opinion and expression, to the rights to communicate with international bodies and to access funding, the Commentary analyses what these rights entail and what is needed to ensure their implementation. It also addresses the most common restrictions and violations faced by defenders, and provides recommendations to facilitate States’ implementation of each right.

For ease of reference the Commentary is arranged in 10 sections, each addressing a right in the Declaration, namely:

  1. The right to right to be protected
  2. The right to freedom of assembly
  3. The right to freedom of association
  4. The right to access and communicate with international bodies
  5. The right to freedom of opinion and expression
  6. The right to protest
  7. The right to develop and discuss new human rights ideas
  8. The right to an effective remedy
  9. The right to access funding
  10. A final section addresses permissible derogations to these rights.
[Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights]