Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
About the mandate
Human rights defenders (HRDs) 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 in 2000. The mandate was most recently renewed by the Human Rights Council in 2020 with decision 43/115 and resolution 43/16.
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. She was the founder and director of Front Line Defenders (2001-2016) and Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International (1988 to 2000).
Calls for Input
This Fact Sheet aims to support human rights defenders in their invaluable work. It is addressed primarily to State authorities, national and international non-governmental organizations, UN personnel, major private sector actors and human rights defenders themselves. The Fact Sheet is also aimed at the wider public and may be useful to journalists and others in disseminating information on the role and situation of human rights defenders.
The Declaration contains a series of principles and rights that provide for the support and protection of human rights defenders in the context of their work. The Declaration recognizes human rights and principles enshrined in human rights legally binding instruments. It was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly and therefore represents a very strong commitment by States to its implementation.
The Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders is a document aimed at increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.