Our history

Our History

1984

International Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders

ISHR commences work to develop an International Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders.
Women's March on NYC

1988

Human Rights Monitor

ISHR publishes first Human Rights Monitor, connecting human rights defenders on the ground with international human rights systems and developments
ISHR Newsletters
The first Human Rights Monitor

1993

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

1994

Training and technical assistance and support to human rights defenders

ISHR provides training, technical assistance and support to its 1000th human rights defender.

1998

UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders

After 14 years of ISHR lobbying, advocacy and negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders.

2000

Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders

UN Secretary-General appoints Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders.

2003

appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

ISHR leads a successful campaign for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

2005

ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions

ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions, including the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network.

2006

ISHR contributes to the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council

ISHR contributes to the establishment and institution building of a new global peak body for human rights issues, the UN Human Rights Council.

2007

ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles

ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthening legal recognition and protection of LGBT rights worldwide.
Visit Yogyakarta Principles page
LGBT rainbow flag

2011

ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation

ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation faced by human rights defenders leads to the adoption of a landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning and strengthening protections against reprisals.

2012

ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies

Working with key NGO partners such as Amnesty International, ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies, prevent their weakening and better connect their work with victims and human rights defenders on the ground.

2013

ISHR’s advocacy leads to adoption of Human Rights Council resolution calling on States to amend national laws to protect the work of human rights defenders

Working with supportive States and NGOs, ISHR’s advocacy leads to adoption of historic Human Rights Council resolution calling on all States to review and amend national laws to respect and protect the work of human rights defenders.

2014

ISHR begins work to develop a model national law on the protection of human rights defenders

ISHR begins work to develop a model national law on the protection of human rights defenders, working successfuly with partners in Cote d’Ivoire to secure the enactment of the first such law in Africa.

2015

ISHR and all ten UN treaty bodies come together to adopt a comprehensive policy to combat reprisals, known as the San Jose Guidelines

ISHR and all ten UN treaty bodies come together to adopt a comprehensive policy to combat reprisals, known as the San Jose Guidelines. ISHR is working intensively with Ghana and 65 other States to draft and deliver a statement to the Human Rights Council articulating that the Council has a `legal duty to address reprisals`.

2016

ISHR spearheads the development of an influential Model National Law on Human Rights Defenders

ISHR spearheads the development of an influential Model National Law on Human Rights Defenders, endorsed by 28 of the world`s leading human rights lawyers and experts and already used as a template to guide the development of defender laws in a host of countries.

2017

Facilitated by ISHR and Arc International, a group of 33 international experts release the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10

Facilitated by ISHR and Arc International, a group of 33 international experts release the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10, an authoritative set of new principles on international human rights law relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, including in relation to LGBTI rights defenders.
Visit the Yogyakarta Principles 10+ page

2018

Following two-year advocacy campaign by ISHR, the parliament of Mali adopts national law on the protection of defenders

Parliament of Mali adopts national law on the protection of defenders, following two-year advocacy campaign and provision of substantial technical assistance by ISHR and our local partner, the Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains.

2019

ISHR secures adoption of first ever UN resolution on environmental human rights defenders

As climate activists around the world face stigmatisation and harassment from powerful and vested interests, we worked with Norway and civil society partners from all regions to draft and then achieve the consensus adoption of the first ever UN resolution on environmental human rights defenders. The resolution articulates the vital and important work of environmental activists and means to enhance their recognition and protection.
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2020

ISHR works with victims, family members, anti-racism activists and civil society partners to secure urgent debate at the UN on systemic racism and police violence

The urgent debate, which hears first hand testimony from the families and representatives of Black people killed by police violence, leads to the High Commissioner investigating and reporting on systemic racism in the US and globally and setting out a roadmap for transformative racial justice. In 2021, this results in the establishment of a standing Commission of Inquiry on systemic violence.
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Racial justice

2021

ISHR strengthens protection against reprisals and accountability for perpetrators

In 2021, we undertook in-depth research to better understand what victims need, successfully litigated a landmark case enshrining the rights of defenders and victims to communicate with international bodies, and raised the political costs for perpetrators by ensuring that the UN Secretary-General's report on reprisals is discussed each year at the UN General Assembly.
Read on to remain up to date with the latest international human rights news, views and developments!
image of a Lady Justice scale on a plenarium table as representation of law