Illustration: ISHR


HRDAP22: Global community of activists taking part in ISHR's flagship programme

Through ISHR's Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP22), 19 activists have formed a virtual community from the four corners of the globe, while continuing their vital work for the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective countries.

Each year, the Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) provides activists with the tools they need to navigate the UN in order to achieve even greater impact on the ground. 

This year’s programme HRDAP22 began on 4 April and ended on 24 June 2022.If you would like to be part of the next online/in-person edition, click here!

What did they achieved?

19 activists took part in the twelve-week course, which was delivered remotely for its third consecutive year. They formed a virtual community from the four corners of the globe, while continuing their vital work for the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective countries.

The HRDAP22 cohort is made up of human rights defenders from 17 different countries, which include Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Uganda, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and other countries* with restrictive environments. (*these will not be mentioned due to the reported high level of reprisals against human rights defenders in these States)

The defenders work on many key human rights issues, including equality, dignity and non-discrimination; environmental justice and sustainability; international accountability for repression of human rights defenders and transparency and rule of law. In particular, the activists focus their efforts to:

  • Advance women’s rights
  • Defend the rights of LGBTQI+ persons
  • Combat racism
  • Bring about change in highly restrictive environments
  • Create solutions for business and environmental issues and their impact on indigenous communities

Through HRDAP, the defenders deepened their knowledge and understanding of UN human rights mechanisms through interactive learning materials on the tailor-made HRDAP Platform. These included, among others, completing e-learning courses on the UN Human Rights Council, Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review and UN Treaty bodies. They also received up to date information on upcoming advocacy opportunities to engage with these mechanisms. 

They expanded their knowledge and networks with one another through peer check-in sessions and with human rights experts and advocates through live Q&As and discussions, received individual and group coaching sessions and developed advocacy strategies in order to engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN, to effect change back home.

A total of 17 defenders completed the entire programme. The remaining activists completed certain elements of the course, either due to personal circumstances or unforeseen events in their home countries.

Where are they now?

4 months after the end of the programme, HRDAP22 defenders have continued their engagement at the international level. They have, among others, traveled to Geneva and participated in the 51st Human Rights Council session, providing 2 oral statements, as well as participated in a side event. They also have submitted reports to the ESCR treaty body and for UPR sessions in November, as well as promoted a joint statement directly with UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls and ACHPR Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.

HRDAP was also very beneficial for participants to organize peer-learning sessions and share their knowledge locally: Some has for instance campaigned for their country to adopt a law on Human Rights defenders protection or created a regional network of and disseminated a training for environmental defenders to advocate for their rights.

ISHR continues to provide support and allocated small grants thanks to our generous partners, for some defenders to be able to pursue medium-term advocacy objectives for forthcoming Human Rights Council sessions or submissions.

The exchange of knowledge, skills building and the joint commitment shown by human rights defenders remains an inspiration for all involved in the programme, and ISHR is pleased to continuing this journey with the defenders.

HRDAP provides not only a deep dive to the structures of the UN Human Rights Mechanisms in their theory and scope, but the tools to identify the advocacy opportunities before each of them. And the best part is you learn this throughout an interactive platform, sessions with experts, Special Rapporteurs, and successful activists who have navigated throughout the system, while building networks with peers throughout the world. It has been a great experience to connect the knowledge, advocacy, and litigation efforts we perform as Colombia Diversa, with the possibilities the UN Human Rights Mechanisms provide. It has really opened my mind and amplified the tools to bring change to my country and my region.
Juan Felipe Rivera Osoio, Colombia Diversa, Colombia (HRDAP22 Participant)
The HRDAP is a thorough and comprehensive advocacy program. The platform it offers is user-friendly and very informative, the group sessions are rich with information and the 1-1 sessions with the coaches are very meaningful and insightful. Combined with motivation, impact never felt closer
Mounir Marjieh, The Community Action Center / Al-Quds University, Palestine (HRDAP22 Participant)
The best training to equip one with the skills to intensify one's advocacy work.
HRDAP22 Participant

The great sense of community, solidarity and commitment shown by the human rights defenders was inspiring to witness and ISHR looks forward to continuing this journey with the defenders.

Would you like to be part of the next online/in-person edition in 2023? Click here to apply, until 10 January 2023!

  • 100%

    of HRDAPers surveyed were "very satisfied" with the programme

  • 100%

    either "agree" or "strongly agree" that they feel equipped to implement their advocacy strategies and to engage effectively with the UN human rights system, including the key human rights mechanisms

  • 64%

    agree that they have expanded their network through meeting UN experts, other human rights advocates and ISHR staff and that they now feel part of a wider community of human rights defenders

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