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 – be it human rights lawyers, labour activists and unionists, land and environmental defenders, anti-corruption activists or human rights journalists – 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

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 ‘Kadir-Kasiet’, 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

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

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.  

read more
Eyewitness

Eyewitness

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

read more