The following post has been published on the blog of Hans Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders. It describes the publication of an important report on the protection and security of Human Rights Defenders. The principal audience for this report is private donors and grantmakers who provide  financial support for work that strengthens the protection and security of human rights defenders, as well as donors who are concerned about the safety and security of their grantees.


The report was prepared by Catherine Hyde Townsend for Wellspring Advisors, whose mission is to “coordinate grant-making programs that advance the realization of human rights and social and economic justice for all people”—particularly “the most marginalized and vulnerable.” The report’s recommendations include efforts that donors can make individually as well as collectively to enhance the protection and security of HRDs.



Find the post featered on the blog as well as the report below.


I am sharing with you an important new report on the protection and security of human rights defenders entitled, “Keeping Defenders Safe: A Call to Donor Action”. The report was released this summer but did not get the attention it deserves. The report reviews existing responses to the security challenges that human rights defenders face, with a focus on the grant-makers who support work aimed at strengthening HRD protection and security. The author, Borislav Petranov, conducted more than 150 interviews with defenders and related stakeholders around the world, seeking to capture the viewpoints of activists on the ground. Catherine Hyde Townsend of Wellspring Advisors prepared it for publication. The report’s conclusions suggest changes in focus and approach with recommendations that donors can implement individually as well as collectively to enhance the protection and security of HRDs. While it is not a roadmap or comprehensive analysis of protection mechanisms, it does recommend considered reflection on current policies and practices in the field:


1. Integrate considerations of security and protection in all aspects and stages of the donor-grantee relationship.


2. Rebalance grant-making from a focus on emergencies to increased attention to preparedness. Develop and implement preventive policies within local organizations, enabling them to periodically review, update, improve, and adapt them with a sufficient financial cushion to react to emergencies.


3. Sustain existing emergency responses (scaled up where necessary), but with an emphasis on improving coordination, flexibility, outreach, and accessibility, especially by using innovative technological tools, and with an emphasis on providing support as close as possible to where grantees are located.


4. Rebalance capacity building from a focus on training to a focus on “service/accompaniment,” while ensuring that training links physical, psychosocial, and digital security.


5. Increase the focus on locally-owned and nationally (or sub- regionally) based civil society protection initiatives and networks, especially on developing (comprehensive)1 rapid response solutions that are based locally or sub-regionally.


6. Support collaborative efforts to generate better data and facilitate sharing of protection know-how, know-who, and resources amongst activists within and between countries. Encourage strategizing on the most crucial aspects of protection, including breaking the cycle of impunity and tackling problems of follow-up and implementation that undermine the intergovernmental systems of protection.


7. Scale up support for rest and respite for defenders with a focus on holistic well-being and comprehensive rehabilitation.