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The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

OHCHR and protecting and expanding civic space

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 53/144, is based on and incorporates human rights enshrined in legally-binding international instruments.

The Declaration reaffirms rights that are instrumental to the defense of human rights, including, inter alia, freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to gain access to information, to provide legal aid and to develop and discuss new ideas in the area of human rights (see A/63/288, annex, para. 2).

The Declaration thus requires that states:

  • Recognize the value and important contribution of human rights defenders to peace, sustainable development and human rights;
  • Respect human rights defenders on a non-discriminatory basis, protect them against any arbitrary action as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration, and ensure access to effective remedies in the case of violations and prompt and impartial investigations of alleged violations;
  • Reinforce their work by creating an enabling environment, through legislative, administrative and other steps, promoting public understanding of human rights, creating independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and promoting the teaching of human rights.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders provides insights on this Declaration.

The Declaration is available in the six official UN languages, as well as 42 others.

View all translations of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

Read the full Declaration on Human Rights Defenders