Human Rights Defenders

Individuals and groups promoting human rights
Around the world, civic freedoms and human rights defenders (HRDs) are increasingly under attack and the environment in which civil society can operate freely is narrowing. This phenomenon is taking place not just in countries that are led by repressive or autocratic governments, but also in established democracies.

We all have the right and the responsibility to promote human rights and to safeguard democracy and its institutions. Human rights defenders are those of us that actively do so. Around the world, civic freedoms and human rights defenders (HRDs) are increasingly under attack and the environment in which civil society can operate freely is narrowing. This phenomenon is taking place not just in countries that are led by repressive or autocratic governments, but also in established democracies. In particular, freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of information, and the right to privacy, are under increasing attack. Both companies and defenders have a shared interest in the full respect of civic freedoms, characterised by non-discrimination, transparent and accountable government, and freedom from corruption.

Prioritisation of business interests over interests of communities and workers is one of the key challenges faced by defenders. HRDs who confront business interests ‚Äď be it human rights lawyers, labour activists and unionists, land and environmental defenders, anti-corruption activists or human rights journalists ‚Äď are among those defenders most at risk. They are key agents of change, and they contribute greatly to safeguarding human rights and ensuring corporate responsibility.

This page collects news about human rights defenders, reports on the state of human rights defenders, and information on tools they can use.

See the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre portal on HRDs for more information.

Pinned Articles

Strategic lawsuits against public participation

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are one tactic used by business actors to stop people raising concerns about their practices. SLAPPs can take the form of criminal or civil lawsuits brought to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics. This hub...

Human Rights Defenders & Civic Freedoms

HRDs’ work is essential to the business and human rights movement because of their critical importance for ensuring corporate responsibility and accountability. Yet, attacks on them are growing. This hub brings together news on these advocates and communities -...

Corruption, decline in civil liberties & attacks on human rights defenders are strictly correlated, Transparency International finds

While all states have a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all people, the presence of corruption can weaken a government’s ability to do so by undermining the overall functioning of the state.

SLAPPd: the Armenian activists fighting a mining multinational’s lawsuits

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) used by Lydian international, the tax haven listed mining company, against journalists and civil society as it presses forward with the Amulsar gold mine in Armenia, whilst the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has stood by silently.  

Rory Peck Trust launches anti-SLAPPs resources for journalists

Journalists around the world are increasingly being silenced with legal threats and lawsuits. These funds and organisations can help by providing advice, support and financial assistance to freelance journalists.

Eyewitness

This app helps activists and witnesses document and verify human rights abuses.

Let us make Europe a safe place for environmental human rights defenders

There are places in Europe today where environmental human rights defenders are beaten, threatened, verbally abused, intimidated, or otherwise prevented from carrying out their legitimate activities in a safe and free manner.

Human Rights Defenders in the Western Balkans Report

The position of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Western Balkans is increasingly precarious. Across the region, HRDs and organisations, as well as independent media outlets, are prone to intimidation, threats, smear campaigns, digital and physical attacks, and an overall disregard by national authorities.

Review of the security situation of human rights defenders, civil activists working on corporate accountability in Kazakhstan (2016-2020)

In 2021, PA ‚ÄėKadir-Kasiet‚Äô, together with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, conducted research into the situation regarding the protection of human rights defenders in the field of corporate accountability in the period from 2016 to 2020.

Latest Articles

Strategic lawsuits against public participation

Strategic lawsuits against public participation

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are one tactic used by business actors to stop people raising concerns about their practices. SLAPPs can take the form of criminal or civil lawsuits brought to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics. This hub...

read more
Human Rights Defenders & Civic Freedoms

Human Rights Defenders & Civic Freedoms

HRDs’ work is essential to the business and human rights movement because of their critical importance for ensuring corporate responsibility and accountability. Yet, attacks on them are growing. This hub brings together news on these advocates and communities -...

read more
Checklist: Documenting Corporate Human Rights Impacts

Checklist: Documenting Corporate Human Rights Impacts

This checklist is developed by ESCR-Net & Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, incorporating feedback from civil society representatives around the world. The checklist is available in 12 languages. Background The project responds to needs...

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Interviews with Human Rights Defenders

Interviews with Human Rights Defenders

The Resource Centre collects interviews with activists, journalists and human rights defenders, where they share their strategies, victories, and recommendations on protecting civic freedoms and human rights. Besides interviews with regional HRDs, on the CEECA...

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HRD Interview: Dilnar Insenova, activist from Kazakhstan

HRD Interview: Dilnar Insenova, activist from Kazakhstan

What is the situation like for human rights defenders, working on business-related human rights issues in Kazakhstan? Are there sufficient protections for HRDs? In general, the situation with human rights defenders is the same as in the country on the whole: no one is...

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