HRCnet is a network of 16 national, regional and international NGOs working to support human rights defenders in their engagement at the UN Human Rights Council and to ensure that it is accessible, safe and responsive to their demands and needs.

HRCnet was established in 2006 to enhance NGO engagement with the Human Rights Council and to strengthen the Council’s impact and influence on the ground. Since then, HRCnet members working in coordination and solidarity have contributed significantly to some of the most important initiatives and outputs of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

HRCnet goals

HRCnet members have substantially shaped debates and made influential policy proposals on country situations, as well as thematic and institutional issues. HRCnet works to:

  • Safeguard civil society space locally and at the international level: by securing strategic action by key actors toward the protection of human rights defenders and safeguarding civil society participation at the UN.

  • Enhance access to international human rights mechanisms: by providing information and assisting rights holders in engaging with the international human rights system, strengthening the capacity to influence States, and harnessing the experience and capabilities of civil society from all regions.

  • Amplify impact: by facilitating coordination and collaboration between international and regional NGOs.

  • Promote accountability: by seeking the establishment of international human rights mechanisms to investigate and promote accountability for gross human rights violations.

  • Enhance scrutiny: by bringing human rights violations to the attention of the international community and pushing for the establishment of expert mandates to monitor and document such violations.

  • Strengthen protection: by bringing rights holders to the centre of international decision-making processes and demanding timely and effective responses from the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.


HRCnet Map

In the Gambia

The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) is an independent, non-profit regional human rights NGO based in Banjul, The Gambia. The Centre is committed to the promotion of the aims and principles of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and to the respect for the universality of human rights as enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights.

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In Uganda

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the East and Horn of Africa sub-region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders serves as the secretariat of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, which represents hundreds of members consisting of individual HRDs, human rights organisations, and national HRD coalitions.

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In South Africa

The Southern Defenders embodies an ironclad commitment to protecting human rights defenders (HRDs) in the face of attacks and shrinking civic space. It coordinates regional efforts to provide rapid, practical, comprehensive and inclusive protection support to HRDs at high risk, defend civic space, and empower HRDs to mitigate the effects of repression. To this end, the SAHRDN contributes to the respect and recognition of HRDs as legitimate actors and agents of social change with universally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed rights.

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In South Africa

CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. It is a membership alliance with more than 9,000 members in more than 175 countries. The organisation’s definition of civil society is broad and covers non-governmental organisations, activists, civil society coalitions and networks, protest and social movements, voluntary bodies, campaigning organisations, charities, faith-based groups, trade unions and philanthropic foundations. CIVICUS membership is diverse, spanning a wide range of issues, sizes and organisation types.

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In Togo

The West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN/ROADDH) is a non-governmental organisation that promotes the work of human rights defenders (HRDs). It is composed of national coalitions for human rights and individual focal points. WAHRDN has observer status to the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and it is a member of the executive committee of the NGO Forum at the ACHPR. Through its advocacy efforts, WAHRDN aims to shape the domestic and foreign policy of West African countries in line with human rights standards, and to strengthen the rule of law.

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In China

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) is an NGO having General Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is a body committed to the development of legal self-reliance and empowerment of people. It will place particular emphasis in its work on the areas of cultural, social and economic rights and the right of development. ALRC will work closely with and support regional, national, and local groups involved in this field, taking care, at the same time, to protect the autonomy and independence of such groups. The Centre will promote the development of, and support specific legal service and resource programmes promoting self-help at the local level. It will also seek to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues by the bar and other legal bodies and personnel, at local and national levels.

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In Thailand

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 82 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. FORUM-ASIA is committed to building a peaceful, just, equitable and ecologically sustainable community of peoples and societies in Asia, where all human rights of all individuals, groups and peoples – in particular, the poor, marginalised and discriminated – are fully respected and realised in accordance with internationally accepted human rights norms and standards.

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In India

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation working in the area of human rights. Through its reports, research and advocacy, CHRI draws attention to the progress and setbacks to human rights in Commonwealth countries. In advocating for approaches and measures to prevent human rights abuses, CHRI addresses the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations Human Rights Council members, civil society and the media on criminal justice concerns. It works on and collaborates around public education programmes, policy dialogues, comparative research, media dissemination advocacy and networking on the issues of Access to Information and Access to Justice.

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In Argentina

The Center for Legal and Social Studies is an Argentine human rights organization, which promotes the protection of rights and their effective exercise, justice and social inclusion, at the national and international level. CELS articulates national and international work, particularly with regard to universal and regional protection mechanisms. The main areas of work are: memory, truth and justice for crimes committed within the framework of State terrorism; institutional violence and incarceration policies as areas of violation of human rights; social inclusion and economic, social and cultural rights, especially in relation to access to land and a decent habitat; public policies on mental health; reforms of the justice system, the rights of migrants, sexual and reproductive rights, and freedom of expression.

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In Brazil

Since January 2006, Conectas has had consultative status with the United Nations (UN) and, since May 2009, it has had observer status at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. More than a non-governmental organisation, Conectas is a part of a living and global movement that persists in the fight for equal rights. Connected to an extensive network of partners throughout Brazil and the world, the organisation is present and makes itself heard in the various decision-making spaces that contribute to the advancement of human rights from a perspective of the Global South. Conectas works to protect and expand the rights of everyone, especially the most vulnerable. It proposes solutions, prevent setbacks and denounce violations to produce transformations.

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In Egypt

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) is an independent regional non-governmental organization which aims to promote respect for the principles of human rights and democracy in the Arab region. CIHRS seeks to attain organisation objectives by developing, proposing, and promoting changes to policy and practice in the Arab region in order to bring them in line with international human rights standards. In addition, CIHRS conducts human rights advocacy at national, regional, and international human rights mechanisms, carries out research, and provides human rights education, both for youth and for established human rights defenders seeking ongoing professional development.

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In Egypt

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) was established in 2002 to complement the work of other Egyptian human rights groups by adopting as its mandate, and focus of concern, a group of rights and freedoms that are closest to the human-being: his/her body, privacy and house. These rights often are ignored or overlooked. EIPR believes that the crucial importance of public freedoms and political rights must be grounded in an understanding of the indispensability of full protection for personal rights.

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In Norway

Human Rights House Foundation establishes, supports, and connects Human Rights Houses – coalitions of civil society organisations working together to advance human rights at home and abroad. Today, 16 Houses in 11 countries are united in an international network of Human Rights Houses. Together, the Human Rights House Foundation network advocates for the freedoms of assembly, association, and expression and the right to be a human rights defender. These four rights underpin a strong and independent civil society and protect and empower human rights defenders.

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In the United States of America

Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. The organisation consists of roughly 450 people of 70-plus nationalities who are country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need. Human Rights Watch directs advocacy towards governments, armed groups and businesses, pushing them to change or enforce their laws, policies and practices. To ensure independence, Human Rights Watch refuses government funding and carefully reviews all donations to ensure that they are consistent with organisation policies, mission, and values. Human Rights Watch partners with organisations large and small across the globe to protect embattled activists and to help hold abusers to account and bring justice to victims.

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In Switzerland

The International Service for Human Rights is an independent, non-profit organisation promoting and protecting human rights. Our mission is to support human rights defenders, strengthen human rights systems, as well as lead and participate in coalitions for human rights change. We believe that no matter who we are or where we come from, no matter the differences between cultures, as human beings, we all share the same humanity. We all wish to live in peace, be respected, be surrounded by our loved ones in a safe and fair environment, and with opportunities to lead our lives in dignity.

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In Asia

The World Uyghur Congress strives to promote democracy, human rights and freedom for the Uyghur people through peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means in order to determine their political future. The WUC is active in many different fora and works on projects around the world to defend the civil, political, cultural and socio-economic rights of the Uyghur people. WUC carries out international advocacy at the United Nations, European institutions, and national governments. The WUC also offers capacity-building training to Uyghur youth around the world and closely cooperates with civil society actors on different campaigns. 

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HRCnet’s members

HRCnet’s membership comprises 16 organisations working at the international level and across almost all regions:



Latin America

Middle East and North Africa