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With human rights defenders, we work for a world that is more just, equal and sustainable for all.

About us

We support human rights defenders. Here’s how.

Through our programmes, we support and act in solidarity with human rights defenders, contributing to a world that is fair, just and peaceful, in which all people can live free and equal, in communities that are diverse and inclusive.

Supporting defenders

Latest updates

HRC55: Key issues on agenda of March 2024 session

The 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 26 February – 5 April 2024, will consider issues including the protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, the right to food and adequate housing, among others. It will also present an opportunity to address grave human rights situations in States including Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, China, Syria, South Sudan, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Eritrea, occupied Palestinian territory/Israel, among many others. Here’s an overview of some of the key issues on the agenda.

HRC2024: Blueprint for States to ensure the Human Rights Council is credible, accessible and effective

For many rights holders, victims and human rights defenders, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) provides a vital lever increasing pressure for change at the national level, while for others it provides the last resort or only opportunity to expose violations, seek accountability, and garner support for their essential work towards a fair, equal and sustainable world. We need the HRC to be credible, effective and accessible to everyone. This is only possible if States ensure that remote and hybrid participation of civil society is maintained; that international law is upheld universally; promptly and adequately respond to HRDs’ demands for accountability; lead and support HRC action in line with objective human rights criteria; and ensure that HRC members live up to their responsibilities, including full cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms.

Helping human rights defenders strengthen their advocacy skills with the UN

ISHR Academy is ISHR's e-learning space, helping human rights defenders strengthen their advocacy skills with the UN for greater impact on the ground. Our learning modules demystify the UN human rights system and build capacity to push for change. Discover new tools, insider tips, defender stories, and more!

Visit ISHR Academy

Human rights defenders' stories

"I remember to be hopeful... because I believe in my own power."

Our priorities

Women's rights

Women human rights defenders have historically been at the forefront of human rights progress relating to gender and equality, creating and implementing campaigns for change.

LGBTQI+ rights

LGBTQI+ rights defenders work toward enhanced respect, dignity, equality and a world free from violence and discrimination for their communities, for everyone!

Business and human rights

Responsible business should support human rights and people who defend them. Companies can take concrete actions to protect defenders and the 'shared space' in which both operate!

Land, climate and environment

Land, climate and environmental rights defenders work against the clock to address the climate crisis and help us all live on a healthy, sustainable planet.

Where we work

ISHR has permanent offices in Geneva and New York, enabling us to build and leverage our distinctive expertise and networks at the UN and among key diplomats for the benefit of defenders. ISHR establishes presences in strategic locations from time-to-time as is appropriate and necessary to best enable achievement of our goals. As is the case with our office in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, such presences may include the co-location or secondment of ISHR staff with key national and regional human rights defender organisations or networks or the relocation of staff to provide enhanced access to key decision-makers.

Global support

Our impact

We support defenders, strengthen laws and systems for their protection and contribute to a safe and enabling environment for them at the national, regional and international levels.

  • 17141

    Number of people accessing information and support through the ISHR Academy in 2022.

  • 1145

    Number of human rights defenders to whom ISHR provided training or advocacy support in 2022.

  • 79%

    Percentage of recommendations made by ISHR and taken up by States in the Universal Periodic Review in 2021.


© Lorena Rossi

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