Strategic Framework 2021-25

Human rights defenders are people who promote and protect the human rights of others whether individually or in association with others. They are people who act with humanity, serve with humanity, and bring out the best in humanity.

This strategy has been developed in a context characterised by uncertainty and change, including a worsening climate emergency, a global pandemic and associated financial crisis, deepening inequalities, worsening authoritarianism and populism, as well as the erosion of multilateralism, and the rule of law. It is also a context characterised by increased awareness and action at the local, national, regional and international levels. Human rights defenders are mobilising around issues such as environmental justice, racial justice, gender equality, freedom of expression and association, access to information, democratic representation and participation, the redistribution of economic and political power, and state and corporate accountability for intersecting human rights violations and abuses.

The purpose of this Strategic Framework is to guide the effective pursuit of ISHR’s Vision, Mission and Values, and the achievement of ISHR’s Overall Goals. It articulates Strategic Goals and a framework for identifying priorities, and maps an organisational structure and working methods that will ensure agility and sustainability in a fast changing world. The strategy was developed through a highly consultative process over a 10 month period with extensive and invaluable inputs from human rights defenders, NGOs working at the national, regional and international levels, human rights experts, and diplomatic and financial partners, as well as ISHR Board and staff. It is complemented with a results framework, and implemented through an annual activity plan and budget, and reviewed and updated on a biennial basis to ensure it remains relevant, responsive, ambitious and agenda setting. The framework provides the structure for our planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning process.

Our Theory of Change 

  • If the environment in which human rights defenders operate at the national, regional and international levels is safe and enabling,
  • And if human rights defenders have the capacity, connections and support to organise and engage with international and regional mechanisms,
  • And if such mechanisms are accessible and responsive to human rights defenders, and effective in promoting, protecting and contributing to the realisation of human rights and accountability for violations and abuses
  • Then, human rights defenders will be able to work more effectively, collaboratively and influentially at the national, regional and international levels to advance their goals to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity and equality, in communities that are diverse and inclusive, in a world that is fair, just, sustainable and peaceful.

Our Overall Goals

  1. Human rights defenders are equipped, connected, supported and influential.
  2. States, businesses and other non-State actors respect and protect human rights defenders.
  3. Human rights laws and mechanisms are accessible, responsive and effective.

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