Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Purpose of the mandate

Human rights defenders are all persons, who individually or in association with others, act to promote or protect human rights peacefully. This mandate was created to:

  • promote the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in cooperation and dialogue with Governments and other actors
  • study developments and challenges on the right to promote and protect human rights and seek, receive and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders
  • recommend effective strategies to better protect human rights defenders
  • integrate a gender perspective and pay particular attention to women human rights defenders

The Human Rights Commission first established the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders on 2000. The mandate was most recently renewed by the Human Rights Council decision 43/115 in 2020 and the Human Rights Council resolution 43/16.

Current mandate holder

Ms Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders © UN PhotoMs. Mary Lawlor is the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders since 1 May 2020. She was born and educated in Ireland and is an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights. She was the founder and director of Front Line Defenders (2001-2016) and Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International (1988 to 2000). Read Ms. Lawlor's full biography and CV.

Publications

Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defendersCommentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders
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Fact sheet 29 - Human Rights DefendersFact Sheet 29 - Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights
Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

Latest press releases:

More press releases and statements...

Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Report on killings of human rights defenders
CLOSED: Submissions now online

Activities

Joint open letter on the Finance in Common Summit to be held in Paris from 10 to 12 November 2020 (Available in
English and French PDF | Word)
25 September 2020

Webinar recording: “In the shadow of COVID-19: Lessons learned on civic space and public freedoms” by UN Human Rights - Special Procedures, featuring three Special Rapporteurs and civil society representatives.
9 July 2020

Latest developments

End of mission statement by Michel Forst, Visit to Peru, 21 January – 3 February 2020

Call for inputs on upcoming country visit to Peru – 21 January-3 February 2020: Deadline: 27 November

Call for inputs – SR’s report to HRC 43 Session – available in English French, Spanish and Arabic

Call for inputs – SR’s report to GA74 – available in English, French and Spanish

Call for inputs on upcoming country visit to Mongolia – 30 April-13 May

Call for inputs on country visit to Colombia 20 November – 3 December 2018

HRDs for Nobel Peace Prize?

Call for inputs for the report of the SR on Human Rights defenders to the 40th session of the Human Rights Council

Joint Statement on the UN HRD Declaration

Honduras: Joint statement (SR & National HRD Protection Mechanism)

20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders

SR on HRD's support of Poland's Commissioner for Human Rights in a joint statement with other international and regional human rights organizations

Survey on Good Practices in the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to the 28th session of the Human Rights Council

Observations on Communications transmitted to Governments and replies received

Report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to the 69th session of the General Assembly

Report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to the Human Rights Council on safe and enabling environment for defenders

Special Rapporteur:

Ms. Mary Lawlor
(Ireland), 2020-

Former Special Rapporteurs:

Mr. Michel Forst
(France), 2014-2020

Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
(Uganda), 2008-2014

Mrs Hina Jilani
(Pakistan), 2000-2008