Campaigning for strong human rights defenders

The right to be a human rights defender has been reinforced by the resolution adopted by consensus at the Human Rights Council. The resolution focuses on legislation affecting, restricting and criminalising the work and activities of human rights defenders.

Norway presented a new resolution on protecting human rights defenders to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution addresses issues such as the funding of NGOs, the use of legislation to hinder or limit unduly the ability of human rights defenders to exercise their work, criminalisation of human rights defenders, right to disseminate and publish information online and offline, as well as the use of counter-terrorism legislation against human rights defenders.

“The adoption of this resolution is the Council’s answer to more and more targeting of human rights defenders,” said HRHF’s Executive Director Maria Dahle. “This resolution comes timely as in many countries of the world, including countries of Eastern Europe, human rights defenders are more under pressure than before and face more and more severe situations and repression, including by non-State actors. We call upon all governments to now look into their legislation and practices, and adapt them accordingly.”

“This resolution addresses situations in countries such as Azerbaijan, Belarus or the Russian Federation, and sets the standards by which they are to adapt their legislation,” said the Human Rights House Foundation’s Regional Manager for Eastern Europe and Caucasus Ane Tusvik Bonde.

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) welcomed the resolution already in an intervention at consultations at the United Nations in Geneva on 27 February 2013, and welcomed the fact that this year the Council will again adopt a substantial resolution on human rights defenders, as the Council did not do so since 2010 with the resolution on protection of human rights defenders.

In her intervention at the Human Rights Council on Thursday 28 February 2013, Anna Dobrovolskaya from the Youth Human Rights Movement (Human Rights House Voronezh) has underlined that “the special role of human rights defenders should be fully recognised in all the countries, as they are ambassadors of the universal ideas and values.” She added that human rights defenders are often presented as having anti-state actions, hence criminalised. “Some states adopted legal frameworks that bring human rights defenders to the position of criminals and make it impossible for them to carry out publicly their legitimate work without breaking the law”, she further said.

Even more worrying, human rights defenders “may be labeled as ‘extremists’ for peacefully exercising freedom of expresion, sanctioned for acting on behalf of unregistered association or labeled as ‘foreign agents’ for receiving foreign funding for their activities, as if they were acting as spies”, Anna Dobrokovskaya added.

In its intervention on 5 March 2013 at the Human Rights Council, HRHF called upon Azerbaijan to stop harassing human rights defenders, including Intigam Aliyev who was awarded with the Homo Homini Award on 4 March 2013.


  • 22HR Council resolution on human rights defenders

    Resolution on protecting human rights defenders adopted on 21 March 2013 at the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council.
  • 22 HR Council Anna Dobrovolskaya intervention

    Intervention of Anna Dobrovolskaya, Youth Human Rights Movement, at the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council.
  • HRHN’s work on human rights defenders:

    One of the 4 key-rights of the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) is the right to be a human rights defender. We believe in free space for human rights defenders to engage for and defend human rights.

    HRHF is therefore closely following the process in Geneva.

    In addition, we are organising a side-event on criminalisation of human rights defenders in Russia and HRHN members from Russia will be in Geneva lobbying alongside HRHF in favour of a strong resolution on human rights defenders during the Human Rights Council session.

    Contact person:

    At HRHF, Florian Irminger is the contact person for matters relating to the resolution on human rights defenders:

    Florian Irminger
    Head of Advocacy and HRHF Geneva Office
    Tel: +41 22 33 22 554
    Mob: +41 79 751 80 42


July 18, 2019

«Мало принять хороший закон: нужно его внедрить в практику»

Правозащитница «Весны» Наталья Сацункевич рассказала Белорусскому дому прав человека о круглом столе, посвященном свободе собраний, который прошел в Вене в начале июля 2019 года.

July 16, 2019

HRC41: Joint NGO end of session statement

Some 16 human rights organisations, including Human Rights House Foundation, issued a joint statement on 12 July 2019, responding to the outcomes of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

July 11, 2019

HRC41: Concern about recent handling of protests in Georgia

On 11 July 2019, Human Rights House Foundation delivered a statement at the Human Rights Council expressing concern at the recent handling of peaceful protests in Georgia.