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Updated 06/23/2006

U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

Still a relatively new topic in the human rights field, the protection of human rights defenders has become one of the foremost concerns of the human rights movement. Human rights activists are often forced into exile by despotic governments, thereby halting the human rights movement in their respective countries. The promotion of human rights then must come from sources outside the community, making it easier for governments to dismiss human rights as culturally foreign.  

With this in mind, the United Nations passed the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on Dec. 9, 1998. The declaration was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, but it is not a legally binding document.

Many of the rights outlined in the declaration are also found in other human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders calls on governments to protect rights such as peaceful assembly, the right to have access to and disseminate information on human rights, the right to peaceful protest of human rights violations, and the right of human rights defenders to be protected from violence and retaliation. 

For more information

Web site of the International Federation for Human Rights


Full text of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders