24 February 2020

To: UN Member States

Re: Support consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

Human rights defenders are people who act with humanity, serve humanity and who contribute to and bring out the best in humanity. They are key to our daily lives - they work so our governments are more transparent and accountable, our environment cleaner and safer, our schools and workplaces fairer, and our futures more sustainable. As human rights defenders confront power, privilege and prejudice, they frequently face a wide range of risks and threats, including against their organisations and their families, friends and loved ones.

Despite their vital contribution, both some governments and non-State actors are still seeking to silence defenders as they expose injustices and demand accountability for all.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is integral to their protection and recognition, globally. It gathers and responds to information on the situation of defenders around the world, engages constructively with governments and non-State actors and provides expert recommendations to promote the effective implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders (‘the Declaration’).

In 2019, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly supported the vital work of defenders. The Human Rights Council recognised the critical role of environmental human rights defenders in protecting natural ecosystems, addressing climate change, attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The General Assembly passed by consensus a resolution focusing on implementation of the Declaration and some key elements of protection policy; the resolution also attracted a record number of co-sponsors.

At the 43rd session of the Council, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years. This is a key opportunity for States and the Council to demonstrate their support and recognition for the indispensable role defenders play to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Civil society organisations* from across the world are calling on all States to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by:

  • Participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution,
  • Presenting early co-sponsorship of the text,
  • Resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations, and
  • Supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.



  1. International Service For Human Rights (ISHR)
  2. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
  3. Sudanese Development Initiative
  4. Partnership for Justice- Nigeria
  5. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
  6. European Center for Democracy and Human Rights
  7. Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
  8. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  9. Centro de Justicia y Paz - Cepaz
  10. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  11. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  12. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR)
  13. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  14. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience - EU
  15. Article 19
  16. The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
  17. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  18. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  19. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - ILGA World
  20. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains
  21. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  22. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  23. Global Witness
  24. Association for Advancement of Legal Right
  25. Emonyo Yefwe International - Kenya
  26. International Centre for Ethnic Studies- Sri Lanka
  27. IFEX
  28. Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada
  29. Peace Brigades International
  30. MENA Rights Group
  31. Brot für die Welt
  32. child rights connect
  33. Amnesty International
  34. Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH)
  35. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH)
  36. Dominicans for Justice and Peace
  37. UPR-Info
  38. International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)
  39. Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COMADDH)
  40. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains
  41. Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
  42. The ICCA Consortium
  43. Natural Justice
  44. URG (Universal Rights Group)
  45. World Assembly of Youth (WAY)
  46. Forest Peoples Programme
  47. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
  48. Freedom House
  49. UIA-IROL (the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers)
  50. FIDH
  51. Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID)
  52. Publish What You Pay UK
  53. IMPACT
  54. Publish What You Pay Australia
  55. Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar
  56. Witness Radio Uganda
  57. Le comité de solidarité avec les victimes de violations des Droits Humains en Mauritanie
  58. Protection International
  59. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  60. In Difesa Di, per i diritti umani e chi li difende - Italy
  61. Terra Nuova - Italy
  62. COSPE - Italy
  63. The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
  64. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  65. Save the Children
  66. International Accountability Project
  67. The United Church of Canada
  68. Gender Action
  69. Transparency Coalition fur Extractive Industries - Yemen (TCEI)
  70. The Liberty Community Foundation (Kazakhstan)
  71. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  72. EarthRights International
  73. Hannah youth organization (Iraq)
  74. Humanium
  75. Transparency International
Oral or Written: