The Right to Defend Human Rights, From a Critical Approach

In this publication, we explain our understanding of this right by emphasising the collective and diverse identities that the term “HRD” encompasses. The publication also proposes key elements for a renewed narrative that better reflects the different realities and experiences of human rights defenders.

This publication is intended for human rights defenders, organisations and key stakeholders who aim to promote wider, diverse and inclusive narratives about human rights defenders. It contains proposals for new narratives that can be useful for advocacy, communications and fundraising strategies linked to human rights defenders.

Some key messages from the publication:

  • The individual and collective exercise of this right requires an enabling environment that does not obstruct this right, but rather protects those who exercise it.
  • Relations of domination, discrimination and the imbalance of power all influence the visibility of defenders’ struggles and the support they receive. The defence of human rights must always be contextualised and cannot be depoliticised.
  • Human rights defenders are defined by their actions and the rights they are defending, regardless of whether or not they self-identify as human rights defenders.
  • We cannot reduce or simplify the identity of defenders. Several identities can be manifested within the same person or collective (e.g. woman, woman farmer, indigenous woman, woman trade unionist) and all should be recognised.
[Protection International]