Amnesty International – Defenders

Section dedicated to the defenders programm of Amnesty International

Defending Women – Defending Rights

The International Campaign on Women Human Rights Defenders is an international initiative for the recognition and protection of women who are activists advocating for the realization of all human rights for all. The campaign asserts that women fighting for human rights and particularly focusing on women’s human rights face specific violations in the course of their work because of their sex and gender. In addition, the Campaign focuses on the situation of human rights activists defending women’s rights and in particular calls attention to the violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisxeual, transgender and other rights activists on grounds of their sex and gender identities. The identities of these actors as well as the nature of the rights they strive to uphold are both factors that make them the focus of the Campaign

Human rights defenders mechanisms -information and coordination website

Since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998, several mechanisms of protection were created within the various existing inter-governmental organisations: the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the African Commission Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa, the Functional Unit on Human Rights Defenders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union. All the inter-governmental organisations mentioned have different mandates, and diffent working methods. In 2008 in Brussels, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), therefore took the initiative to gather for the first time all the human rights defenders’ institutional mandate-holders. The purpose was to draw a state of play of the existing means and techniques of protection, but also to find ways to enhance coordination and complementarities. Some of the main conclusions of this meeting were that information-sharing on both structural issues and individual cases had to be enhanced, working practices and limitations had to be further discussed, visilility of the mechanisms’ actions had to be strengthened.

Why an “inter-mechanisms” website?

Public information on the mandates and activities of the human rights defenders’ mechanisms is not always visible. It is sometimes split on different webpages, web sections or websites, sometimes merely not available online. The creation of a single website gathering all relevant public information on the activities of the different human rights defenders’ protection mandate-holders was actually one of the conclusions of the Washington meeting. It aims at increasing the visibility of the documentation produced by the mechanisms – press releases, studies, reports, statements, etc., as well as of their actions (country visits, institutional events, trials observed).

Human Rights Watch-Defenders

Section dedicated especially to the defenders programm of Human Rights Watch

Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; OEA)

In its 1998 Annual Report, the Commission highlighted the importance and ethical dimension of the work carried out by individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting, monitoring, and providing counsel in the area of human rights. In that report, the Commission recommended that the OAS Member States take all necessary measures to protect the physical integrity of human rights defenders and to ensure they can work under appropriate conditions (1998 Annual Report, Chapter VII, Recommendation 4). After these recommendations were presented to the Member States, the OAS General Assembly adopted Resolution 1671, entitled “Human Rights Defenders in the Americas: Support for the Individuals, Groups, and Organizations of Civil Society Working to Promote and Protect Human Rights in the Americas.” In that resolution, adopted June 7, 1999, the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council, in coordination with the Inter-American Commission, to continue studying the issue of human rights defenders in the region. In 2001, the General Assembly requested that the Commission consider preparing a study in this area (AG/RES.1818).

In December 2001, taking into account the General Assembly’s request, as well as civil society’s interest in having a focal point at the Inter-American Commission that would closely follow the issue of human rights defenders, the Executive Secretariat decided to establish a Unit for Human Rights Defenders. Its role would be to coordinate the Executive Secretariat’s activities in this area and, in particular, to follow the situation of human rights defenders throughout the region.

During its 141st session, held in March 2011, the IACHR decided to create an Office of the Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, in view of the petitions it has received and in the interest of giving greater visibility to the important role human rights defenders and justice operators have in building a democratic society in which the rule of law is in full effect. As a result, the Unit has now been turned into the Office of the Rapporteur.

Through its various tasks, the Office of the Rapporteur closely follows the situation of all persons who work to defend rights in the region, including the situation of justice operators.

Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 1889 F St., N.W. Washington, D.C., 20006 USA