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HRC52: Support consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

ISHR leads joint NGO letter addressed to all UN Member States urging support for consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders at HRC52.

Update: On 3 April, 2023, the HRC adopted by consensus the resolution renewing the mandate of of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, with over 70 State co-sponsors from all regions. 

Human rights defenders are people who act with humanity, serve humanity and who contribute to and bring out the best in humanity. They are key to our daily lives – they work so our governments are more transparent and accountable, our environment cleaner and safer, our schools and workplaces fairer, and our futures more sustainable. As human rights defenders confront power, privilege and prejudice, they frequently face a wide range of risks and threats, including against their organisations and their families, friends and loved ones. Despite their vital contribution, both some governments and non-State actors are still seeking to silence defenders as they expose injustices and demand accountability for all.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is integral to their protection and recognition, globally. It gathers and responds to information on the situation of defenders around the world, engages constructively with governments and non-State actors and provides expert recommendations to promote the effective implementation of the ‘Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (The Declaration on human rights defenders).

2023 marks 25 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on human rights defenders. The adoption of the Declaration was a critical point in human rights history where it articulated how existing human rights law applies to the situation of human rights defenders, recognised the importance and legitimacy of human rights activity, and the need to protect it along with those who carry it out. It is apposite that this major anniversary coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, reflecting the integral role that human rights defenders play in the realisation of universal human rights.

In 2022, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and its full and effective implementation, and that promoting respect, support and protection for the activities of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights, including in conflict and post-conflict situations. In 2021, the General Assembly passed by consensus with 85 State co-sponsors a resolution acknowledging the important and legitimate role that human rights defenders played in the COVID-19 response, as well as the challenges faced as a result.

At the 52nd session of the Council, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years. This is a key opportunity for States and the Council to demonstrate their support and recognition for the indispensable role human rights defenders play to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Our organisations therefore urge all States to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by:

  • participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution
  • presenting early co-sponsorship of the text
  • resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations and
  • supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.


  1. ACAT Belgium
  2. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  3. ACAT Italia
  5. ACAT Spain-Catalonia
  7. ACAT-France
  8. ACAT-Liberia
  9. ACAT-Switzerland
  10. ACAT-UK (Action by Christians Against Torture – UK)
  11. Accion Solidaria on HIV/Aids
  12. Action by Christians against Torture in Togo (ACAT TOGO)
  13. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture – Canada
  14. action by Christians for the abolition of torture – Congo
  15. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) – Cameroon
  16. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture of Côte d’Ivoire
  17. Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture in Burundi (Acat-Burundi)
  18. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  19. African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum
  20. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains
  21. AlertaVenezuela
  22. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
  24. Alliance for Democracy in Laos
  25. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  26. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  27. Amnesty International
  28. Amnesty International Mongolia
  29. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  30. Asian Legal Resource Center
  31. Association for Progressive Communications – APC
  32. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development
  33. association for the respect of indigenous rights, sustainable development and human right
  34. Association for women and Children at Risk
  35. Association of balal
  36. Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
  37. Aula Abierta
  38. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR)
  39. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
  40. Brot für die Welt
  41. Burkina Faso Coaltion of Human Right Defenders (CBDDH)
  42. Bytes For All, Pakistan
  43. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  44. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
  45. Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
  46. Center to Alternatives to Development
  47. Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa (CHRDA)
  48. Centro de Alternativas al Desarrollo (CEALDES) – Colombia
  49. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  50. Child Rights Connect
  52. CIVILIS Human Rights
  53. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
  54. Committee for Free Expression (Comité por la Libre Expresión C-Libre)
  55. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
  56. Community Resource Centre (CRC)
  57. Coordiantion of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience
  58. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  59. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  60. Emonyo Yefwe International
  61. End Impunity Organization
  62. Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial – ECAP
  63. Euro-mediterranean federation against enforced disappearances
  64. European Network Against Racism
  65. Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
  66. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  67. Forum Menschenrechte
  68. Franciscans International
  69. Freedom House
  70. Front Line Defenders
  71. GALE, The Global Alliance for LGBT Education
  72. Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training (GHR)
  73. Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities
  74. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  75. Global Human Rights Group
  76. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  77. Global Observatory of Communication and Democracy (OGCD)
  78. Gulf Centre for Human Rights
  79. Habitat International Coalition
  80. Hallmark Media
  81. Human Rights Association (Insan Haklari Dernegi)
  82. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)
  83. Human Rights Council of Australia
  84. Human Rights Defenders Fund
  85. Human Rights House Foundation
  86. Humanists International
  87. Strategic Human Rights Litigation
  88. IFEX
  89. ILEX Acción Jurídica
  90. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
  91. Inclusive Bangladesh
  92. Indigenous Peoples Rights International
  93. Initiative for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Inc.
  94. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)
  95. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
  96. International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka
  97. International Commission of Jurists
  98. International Commission of Jurists Australia
  99. International Dalit Solidarity Network
  100. International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT)
  101. International Planned Parenthood Federation
  102. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  103. International volunteer organization for women education development
  104. Intersex Society of Zambia
  105. Ivorian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CIDDH)
  106. Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF.org)
  107. Judicial Reform Foundation Taiwan
  108. Karapatan Alliance Philippines
  109. KIOS Foundation
  110. Law Society of England and Wales
  111. Lawyers without Borders Canada
  112. Maldivian Democracy Network
  113. Mauritanian association for socio-educational development
  114. MENA Rights Group
  115. Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras)
  116. Mongolian Women’s Employment Supporting Federation
  117. Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA)
  118. Network of the independent Commission for Human rights in North Africa CIDH AFRICA
  120. Organization Solidarity Development
  122. Peace Brigades International
  123. People Forum for Human Rights(People Forum)
  124. PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants)
  125. Plateforme Droits de l’Homme
  126. POS Foundation
  127. Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)
  129. Protection International Mesoamérica
  130. Public Verdict Foundation
  131. Rainbow Pride Foundation
  132. Red Dot Foundation
  133. Refugee Council of Australia
  134. Renewable Freedom Foundation
  135. Riposte Internationale
  136. Rivers without Boundaries
  137. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  138. Safety and Rights Society (SRS)
  139. SAHR
  140. Scholars at Risk
  141. SHOAA for Human Rights
  142. Society for Threatened Peoples
  143. SOS-Esclaves
  144. Speak Up
  145. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE )
  146. Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
  147. Swedwatch
  148. Syrians for Truth and Justice – STJ
  149. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
  150. The Community Action Center at Al-Quds University
  151. The Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE)
  152. The Kvinna till Kvinna foundation
  153. The Norwegian Human Rights Fund
  154. The Regional Coalition for WHRDs in MENA (WHRDMENA Coalition)
  155. The William Gomes Podcast
  156. Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders
  157. Tournons La Page
  158. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
  159. Viet Tan
  160. West African Human Rights Defenders Network
  161. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  162. Women’s World Summit Foundation
  163. World Justice Project
  164. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  165. World Uyghur Congress (WUC)
  166. WWF International
  167. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs
  168. Youth Care Motivators
  169. Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia
  170. Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN)
  171. Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF)
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