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.
Current mandate holder
Ms. 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 a psychologist by training. 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.
Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders
Fact Sheet 29 - Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights