Success stories

Success stories and leaders of change

Human rights defenders are leaders of change. They are people who are trying to make the world a better place - and they succeed, too! Discover some of their stories and achievements.

Whether their goal is to achieve equality for LGBTIQ+ people, to ensure a healthy environment for Indigenous communities or to defeat systemic racism, human rights defenders share a common vision, that of a society that is more just, equal and free for all.  

Their work is vital to realise human rights change. Often, it takes people and communities to hold powerful politicians and corporations to account and make sure that everyone can benefit from the human rights and freedoms that we are all meant to share.

Human rights defenders come together to build networks and strategies, to prepare powerful campaigns that change minds and hearts, to propose solutions and advocate for better ways of doing things – to make sure no one is left behind. 

Together, they have secured countless reforms for the benefit of millions of people around the world. From anti-racism and solidarity activists dismantling apartheid and segregation to feminists winning women the right to vote, from democracy campaigners bringing down tyrannical regimes to the recognition of marriage equality thanks to LGBTIQ+ rights defenders – the history of the human rights movement is overflowing with victories and plentiful reasons to have hope about our ability to create a better future for everyone.

Here at the International Service for Human Rights we are constantly being inspired by the brave people taking action to defend human rights and want to share some of their success stories with you. In the news below, you will also discover how we at ISHR support these leaders of change, strengthen laws and systems for their protection and contribute to a safe and enabling environment for them at the national, regional and international levels.  

Of course, progress is an ongoing journey and work remains to be done. In this regard, it’s important to remember that we all have the right to defend human rights and the ability to create human rights change. Our collective actions today can create a better tomorrow for everyone.

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Latest updates

The 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Since 1994, the Martin Ennals Award honours human rights defenders from around the world who show exceptional commitment to promoting fundamental rights, often at the risk of their own lives. For the 2022 edition, the Jury selected three activists who, through their courage, unfailing hope and strategic approaches, inspired others to take up human rights. Their identities will be revealed on 19 January 2022 during an online press conference. The Martin Ennals Award Laureates 2022 will be honoured during a hybrid ceremony co-hosted by the City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation on 10 February 2022.

Leaders of Change

Here at ISHR we are constantly being inspired by the brave people taking action to defend human rights. They are leaders of change and we like to share their success stories with you.

Albert Ho

Albert Ho Chun-yan from Hong Kong

Albert Ho, a pro-democracy leader who dedicated most of his lifetime to showing what it means to live by one's belief, walk one's talk, and give it all to preserve the truth.

Maria Luisa Acosta from Nicaragua

Dr. Maria Luisa Acosta is the coordinator of the Centro de Asistencia Legal a Pueblos Indígenas (CALPI), an organisation that supports and seeks to realise the rights of Indigenous and Afrodescendant peoples and communities in Nicaragua.

Mauricio Ochieng

Mauricio Ochieng' from Kenya

Mauricio Ochieng' is a transgender activist and a SOGIESC human rights defender from the Western part of Kenya.

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