Human rights activist

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Human rights defenders (also human rights activists , or human rights defenders ( MRV) according to the English "Human Rights Defenders (HRD)" ) are people who campaign for human rights and fundamental rights in a non-violent manner.


Especially in North Korea , Colombia , Guatemala , Ecuador , Brazil , Zimbabwe , the Democratic Republic of Congo , Sudan , Iran , Nepal , Bangladesh , Burma , Indonesia , Uzbekistan , China and Russia are human rights defenders massive persecution to severe abuse , murder and disappearances exposed . The situation is often particularly difficult for female human rights defenders and those who belong to disadvantaged sections of the population such as indigenous peoples or rural grassroots groups. In Cuba , the women in white are particularly committed to upholding human rights in their country.

Violent attacks on human rights defenders are mostly committed or commissioned by representatives of the state , as their work has led to criticism and resistance. This is especially true in countries that wage so-called dirty wars against domestic opponents. But their situation is also often threatened in so-called failing states .



In 1998, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to protect human rights defenders .

In Europe , two national parliaments, the Belgian and the German, have already passed resolutions. It calls on governments to step up efforts for human rights defenders in their foreign and development policies.

European Union

On June 8, 2004, the EU Council of Ministers and Ireland's President of the Council of the European Union issued a “Guideline for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders”, which is addressed in particular to the EU's diplomatic missions in third countries .

On the day before Human Rights Day 2015, on December 9, 2015, the European Commission announced a new support mechanism for human rights defenders at risk. To this end, EU funds of 15 million euros will be made available up to 2018 in addition to ongoing support for human rights defenders within the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Since 2007 human rights defenders around the world have received a total of EUR 200 million in support from the European Union under the EIDHR .

These financial resources are intended to:

  • short-term z. B.
    • the physical protection,
    • legal and medical assistance,
    • support during legal proceedings and during imprisonment,
    • representation of interests in emergencies,
    • secure accommodation in safe places, etc.;
  • medium term
    • monitor the situation of human rights defenders and
    • Early warning of risks is done and the human rights defender
    • be trained in risk prevention and security (including digital security);
  • long-term strategies are developed with which
    • national networks are supported,
    • Advocacy / lobbying is promoted,
    • crackdown on government restrictions and sanctions imposed on human rights defenders.

The mechanism is managed by a consortium of 12 non-governmental organizations with practical experience working with human rights defenders at risk. The mechanism is intended to be used worldwide, with a special focus on remote areas.


The German Bundestag has linked this to an initiative to protect parliamentarians who are in distress because of their commitment to human rights , democracy and the rule of law .


  • The German text of Declaration A / 53/144 is printed in: United Nations 1999, pp. 119–121.
  • Daniela Gotzel: Human rights defender at the milestone: The long way to a declaration by the General Assembly, in: United Nations 2001, pp. 13-17.
  • Benjamin Beuerle: On the implementation of the “Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” five years after its adoption - an inventory, in: MenschenRechtsMagazin 2004, pp. 47–52.

Web links

Wiktionary: Human rights activists  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. EU launches innovative new support mechanism for human rights defenders , press release of the European Commission of December 9, 2015.
  2. European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights ( Memento of the original from June 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Front Line Defenders, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), International Federation of Leagues for Human Rights (FIDH), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network (ESCR-Net), International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA ), Urgent Action Fund for Women Human Rights Defenders (UAF), Protection International, Peace Brigades International (PBI), Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF), Forum Asia and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP).