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Human rights defenders are people who act with humanity, serve humanity and who contribute to and bring out the best in humanity. They are key to our daily lives – they work so our governments are more transparent and accountable, our environment cleaner and safer, our schools and workplaces fairer, and our futures more sustainable. As human rights defenders confront power, privilege and prejudice, they frequently face a wide range of risks and threats, including against their organisations and their families, friends and loved ones.

Despite their vital contribution, both some governments and non-State actors are still seeking to silence defenders as they expose injustices and demand accountability for all.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is integral to their protection and recognition, globally. It gathers and responds to information on the situation of defenders around the world, engages constructively with governments and non-State actors and provides expert recommendations to promote the effective implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders ("the Declaration").

In 2019, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly supported the vital work of defenders. The Human Rights Council recognised the critical role of environmental human rights defenders in protecting natural ecosystems, addressing climate change, attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The General Assembly passed by consensus a resolution focusing on implementation of the Declaration and some key elements of protection policy; the resolution also attracted a record number of co-sponsors.

At the 43rd session of the Council, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years. This is a key opportunity for States and the Council to demonstrate their support and recognition for the indispensable role defenders play to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Civil society organisations* from across the world are calling on all States to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by:

  • Participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution,

  • Presenting early co-sponsorship of the text,

  • Resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations, and

  • Supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.

List updated on a rolling basis*

  1. International Service For Human Rights (ISHR)

  2. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

  3. Sudanese Development Initiative

  4. Partnership for Justice- Nigeria

  5. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

  6. European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

  7. Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business

  8. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

  9. Centro de Justicia y Paz - Cepaz

  10. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

  11. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

  12. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR)

  13. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

  14. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience - EU

  15. ARTICLE 19

  16. The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

  17. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

  18. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

  19. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - ILGA World

  20. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains

  21. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

  22. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

  23. Global Witness

  24. Association for Advancement of Legal Right

  25. Emonyo Yefwe International - Kenya

  26. International Centre for Ethnic Studies- Sri Lanka

  27. IFEX

  28. Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada

  29. Peace Brigades International

  30. MENA Rights Group

  31. Brot für die Welt

  32. child rights connect

  33. Amnesty International

  34. Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH)

  35. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH)

  36. Dominicans for Justice and Peace

  37. UPR-Info

  38. International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)

  39. Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COMADDH)

  40. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains

  41. Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

  42. The ICCA Consortium

  43. Natural Justice

  44. URG (Universal Rights Group)

  45. World Assembly of Youth (WAY)

  46. Forest Peoples Programme

  47. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation

  48. Freedom House

  49. UIA-IROL (the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers)

  50. FIDH

  51. Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)

  52. Publish What You Pay UK

  53. IMPACT

  54. Publish What You Pay Australia

  55. Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar

  56. Witness Radio Uganda

  57. Le comité de solidarité avec les victimes de violations des Droits Humains en Mauritanie

  58. Protection International

  59. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

  60. In Difesa Di, per i diritti umani e chi li difende - Italy

  61. Terra Nuova - Italy

  62. COSPE - Italy

  63. The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

  64. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

For updates to the list of signatories, visit the ISHR website here.