Racial discrimination


Everyone has the right to equality and to be free from all forms of discrimination, including based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, race, disability, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin, or other status.

ISHR is committed to addressing all forms of discrimination and promoting diversity and inclusion, both internally and through our programmatic support to women human rights defenders, LGBTIQ rights defenders, and anti-racism defenders, among others.

Unfortunately because of deep-rooted discrimination and stereotypes related to gender and sexuality, women human rights defenders face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence – both because of the work they do and because of who they are. Women human rights defenders are detained and tortured in retaliation for their work to challenge patriarchy and demand an end to discrimination and violence. ISHR played an instrumental role in lobbying States at the UN Human Rights Council to call for the immediate and unconditional release of detained Saudi women human rights defenders and accountability for their torture.

Social movements taking to the streets to demand racial justice are met with disproportionate force from police and armed security forces. Working together with affected people and communities, and as part of together with a broad civil society coalition, ISHR played an instrumental role in:

  • pushing for the UN Human Rights Council to convene an urgent debate in June 2020 on systemic racism and police violence and to centre and elevate the voices, experiences and expertise of Black people and people of African descent. 
  • calling on the Council to establish an independent international expert mechanism to address systemic racism and promote racial justice and equality for Africans and people of African descent through the adoption of a resolution in July 2021. 

These developments are a testament to the resilience, bravery and commitment of victims, their families, their representatives and anti-racism defenders globally.

ISHR has played a significant role in supporting progress on the rights of LGBTI persons and communities at the UN,  assisting LGBTI communities and defenders to participate in and have their voices heard. 

We played a leading role in developing the Yogyakarta Principles on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10; as well as contributing to the creation and renewal of a the first UN Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orienetation and gender identity. Our work with LGBTI rights defenders strengthens international and regional protections against violence and discrimination.

Latest updates

Check out all the latest updates to this topic.

Benin UPR: Protect civic space and its defenders

At the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, during the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Benin, ISHR and Changement Social Benin delivered a joint statement encouraging Benin to do more for the protection of defenders in the country.

Zambia UPR: Adopt legal measures to protect defenders from reprisals

At the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, during the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Zambia, ISHR, the Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolutions of Disputes and the Zambia Human Rights Defenders Network delivered a joint statement calling on Zambia to revise its legal instruments and adopt an adequate legal framework to ensure defenders can work in a safe environment without fear of reprisals.

UN experts urge officials to confront institutional racism after first US fact-finding visit since murder of George Floyd

At the end of a 12-day-long fact-finding visit to the United States, two UN experts on racial justice concluded that authorities must adopt a human rights-centered approach to addressing systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent. They must redefine the mission and scope of the police, including radically changing the way law enforcement operates and is held accountable when abuses take place.

Non-discrimination defenders' stories

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