About the campaign Stand4 Human Rights Defenders

Defending the international interests of the EU and its member states cannot be dissociated from the defense of human rights in the world. And authoritarian governments are investing huge efforts and resources to close down, silence, restrict and discredit human rights defenders and independent civil society critical of government policies. This is a crucial political moment.
We need a more consistent and credible political response from the EU, which has made the protection of human rights defenders at risk one of its key priorities. It must renew and reinvigorate this commitment with: a higher profile political leadership, a consistent strategy that integrates an effective priority for the protection of human rights defenders across a number of policy areas, and sustained practical support to those under attack on the front line.
HRDN will press the EU to work on a number of areas in the coming months, with concrete proposals on ways to apply the Action Plan on Human Rights Democracy: from how to identify whether HRDs are being arbitrarily harassed, to better public diplomacy and how to respond to the closing space for civil society; and with a regular focus on cases of human rights defenders at risk that needs the EU's immediate attention.

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Who is a defender

“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. Human rights defenders are identified above all by what they do: to be a human rights defender, a person can act to address any human right (or rights) on behalf of individuals or groups. Human rights defenders seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
Human rights defenders address any human rights concerns, which can be as varied as, for example, summary executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, female genital mutilation, discrimination, employment issues, forced evictions, access to health care, and toxic waste and its impact on the environment. Defenders are active in support of human rights as diverse as the rights to life, to food and water, to the highest attainable standard of health, to adequate housing, to a name and a nationality, to education, to freedom of movement and to non-discrimination. They sometimes address the rights of categories of persons, for example women’s rights, children’s rights, the rights of indigenous persons, the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the rights of national, linguistic or sexual minorities.

Further reading:
UN Human Rights Who is a defender
UN Human Rights Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

About HRDN

The Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN) is an informal grouping of 49 NGOs operating at the EU level in the broader areas of human rights, democracy and peace.
HRDN’s vision is that human rights and democracy are placed at the heart of the EU's internal and external policy agenda. This vision should manifest itself in an EU which effectively protects human rights at home and is a force for positive change in the world.
In pursuit of this vision, HRDN aims to influence EU and EU Member States’ human rights policies and the programming of their funding instruments to promote democracy, human rights and peace.

HRDN information leaflet which includes the full list of member organisations (updated in February 2015). download

HRDN membership information table (November 2012). download

HRDN's Rules of Engagement (December 2012). download


For more information about HRDN, please contact the Trojka.

HRDN web site