Protecting human rights defenders

Headshot of a woman human rights defender from Africa
Woman human rights defender from the exhibition 'Faces of Human Rights Defenders and the Extractive Industry'. © Daniel Schweizer 2013

Switzerland supports the work of human rights defenders and aims to improve their protection on the ground from arbitrary treatment, threats and violence.  The FDFA's guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders serve as a framework for the Swiss representations abroad.

Switzerland's representations abroad support human rights defenders in documenting human rights violations. They also intervene if a human rights defender faces restrictions on their freedom of expression, or in cases of extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance. In such instances, the representations work together with the relevant state bodies as well as representatives of like-minded countries, non-governmental organisations and international initiatives.

Swiss Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Mohnas’ human rights mission in Nepal, FDFA Youtube

Interview with Colombian lawyer Luz Estella Romero, FDFA Interactive blog

UN standards on the protection of human rights defenders

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive peacefully for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. States have a duty to protect these people.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on this matter in 1998, establishing the first-ever international standards on the protection of human rights defenders.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders carries out regular country visits and acts as a contact point for complaints.

UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, OHCHR

Who is a defender, OHCHR

Webpage of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, OHCHR