HRDAP | ISHR's 2021 training for human rights defenders: apply now!

ISHR is calling for applications for its flagship Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme in 2021 – the intensive training programme for human rights defenders. So if you are a human rights defender keen to use the UN to push for change at home, apply now!

After the success of the first remote HRDAP in June 2020, ISHR is preparing its second distance learning Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP), which will take place fully online between 5 April and 25 June 2021. The course equips human rights defenders with the knowledge and skills to integrate the UN human rights system into their existing work at the national level in a strategic manner, and provides an opportunity for participants to prepare for and engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN with the aim to effect change back home.

Get a taste of the programme here and find out more about how to apply here.

Defenders will complete a 12-week distance learning course, which will include:

  • completing ISHR Academy modules and other resources
  • listening to webinars on the UN human rights mechanisms and bodies
  • participating in Q&A sessions with human rights experts
  • taking part in a virtual scenario-based group exercise
  • receiving advocacy support and coaching in order to develop concrete advocacy objectives to make strategic use of the international human rights system
  • the opportunity to build networks around the world, and learn from peers from a range of regions working on a range of human rights issues
  • receiving support and advocacy accompaniment to conduct advocacy (remotely or plan for future in-person advocacy) during Human Rights Council sessions and other relevant meetings.

ISHR’s Hannah Sobocinski explains that participants hit the ground running in this intensive course, with the 12-week format allowing defenders to dive into the inner workings of each UN human rights mechanism, while hearing first-hand from advocates and UN staff on how civil society can strategically engage in the international human rights space.

During the last training, 19 human rights defenders from 16 countries took part in ISHR’s first remote and online HRDAP. At the end of the training, 100% of participants surveyed were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the overall programme, and felt that they would be able to apply what they learnt to their day-to-day work. Participants also shared that they feel part of a wider community of human rights defenders and that they have expanded their network through meeting UN experts, other human rights advocates and ISHR staff. ISHR will look to build upon this success in 2021.

HRDAP trains you with experience, passion and expertise. Amazing team, doing important work to empower human rights defenders. A fruitful learning experience that engages you throughout the training process’, said a HRDAP20 participant.

By participating in HRDAP21, defenders will:

  1. Gain knowledge and tools, which they can use to ensure their voice is central in international human rights decision-making
  2. Explore and compare the benefits of engagement with the Human Rights Council, the Special Procedures, the OHCHR, the UPR and the Treaty Bodies, and examine how they can use them to bolster their work at the national level
  3. Develop strategies and lobbying techniques to increase the potential of their national and regional advocacy work and contribute to human rights change on the ground

Could you be one of our HRDAP21 defenders?

This programme is directed at experienced human rights defenders in non-governmental organisations, with existing advocacy experience at the national level and some prior knowledge of the international human rights system.

ISHR supports, and promotes solidarity with and between, defenders working in the following areas or contexts, which we recognise as intersectional and interdependent:

  1. Equality, dignity and non-discrimination
  2. Environmental justice and sustainability
  3. International accountability for repression of human rights defenders
  4. Transparency and rule of law

What are the next steps?

If you are interested in applying for the Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) 2021 distance learning course, please read the programme description to make sure you meet the requirements, and apply before midnight Geneva time on Sunday 3 January 2021. The link to the online application form can be found here and in the programme description.

For further information, please contact [email protected].

As only a limited number of human rights defenders are able to participate in HRDAP, in addition to our range of guides and handbooks, ISHR has developed an e-learning space to help human rights defenders strengthen their advocacy skills with the UN for greater impact on the ground: the ISHR Academy. The learning modules demystify the UN human rights system and build capacity to push for change. Discover new tools, insider tips, Defender Stories, and more !

Contact: Hannah Sobocinski, h.sobocinski(at)

Photo: @cedricgelissenphotography

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