Human rights defenders – who by peaceful means advocate, mobilise and often put their lives at risk to defend the most fundamental freedoms of their fellow citizens – are key agents of change in their own societies and make a significant contribution to the international community's efforts to support democracy and human rights. Defenders often face serious threats and can experience harm by state and non-state actors.
Since the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998, there has been considerable effort to recognise and protect the right of individuals, groups and communities to promote and protect their own rights and the rights of others. Over time, a multi-level, multi-actor international protection regime for the rights of human rights defenders has emerged, which is based on existing rights derived from the international human rights regime.
The authors in this book reflect on the positive developments that have emerged over time to strengthen the protection of defenders, as well as the debates, tensions and contestations in such practices. This collection provides a critical appraisal of the construction, function, ethical boundaries, and evolution of this protection regime, as well as its multi-scalar social and political effects. In particular, the authors consider the effectiveness of particular international and regional protection mechanisms for the protection of defenders, and examine the relationship between repression, activism, and tactics for managing risks in the face of danger. This book was originally published as a special issue of the International Journal of Human Rights.
Table of Contents
1. Critical perspectives on the security and protection of human rights defenders 2. Towards developing a critical and ethical approach for better recognising and protecting human rights defenders 3. European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders: a review of policy and practice towards effective implementation 4. Protecting human rights defenders at risk: asylum and temporary international relocation 5. Political opportunities in non-democracies: the case of Chinese weiquan lawyers 6. Violence and human rights in Russia: how human rights defenders develop their tactics in the face of danger, 2005–2013
Karen Bennett is Senior Research Fellow in Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights and Social Justice Research (HRSJ) Institute at London Metropolitan University. She has led a research work stream on evaluating effective mechanisms in support of human rights defenders at risk since 2006, and designs rights-based training programmes for human rights defenders internationally.
Danna Ingleton has a feminist and legal human rights background and has worked with numerous international organizations such as the Red Cross, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Amnesty International. She has worked on issues related to NGO and advocacy ethics including informed consent, participatory approaches and data management.
Alice M. Nah is a Lecturer at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York. She conducts research on human rights defenders at risk; migration and asylum in Asia; and organisational effectiveness in civil society.
James Savage is Program Officer for the Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders at the Fund for Global Human Rights. Previously he was Director of the Human Rights Defenders Programme at Amnesty International UK, where his work involved research, policy, advocacy, campaigning, capacity-building, grant-making and direct protection interventions in support of HRDs at risk and their enabling environments.