UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

13 September 2011


In 1998, after 14 years of negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rightsi and Fundamental Freedoms, which remains the main international instrument on human rights defenders. This document recognises the legitimacy of human rights work and the need for these activities and those who carry them out to be protected.

Even though the Declaration does not specifically address the higher risk situation of women human rights defendersWHRD IC, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders">i, it establishes a broad definition of a human rights defender, meaning anyone working for the promotion and protection of human rights (professional and non-professional human rights workers, volunteers, journalists, lawyers and anyone else carrying out, even occasionally, a human rights activity).

The Declaration articulates existing rights contained in the major human rights instruments, such as the right to freedom of expressioni, association and assembly, as they apply to the situation of human rights defenders.

It also outlines that not only State"government" in this glossary). As a general rule, "state" should not be capitalised.

Source: Governance for sustainable human development: A UNDP policy document (Glossary of key terms) and Wikipedia">is, but also non-State actors (such as corporations and “fundamentalist” groups), have the duty to protect human rights defenders against any violence, retaliation and intimidation as a consequence of their human rights work.

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