Recognizing Human Rights Defenders as Agents of Positive Change
Olive Moore - IPS News Agency
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July 9, 2023

Five human rights defenders receive a Front Line Defenders Award in Dublin. (Conor McCabe)

In recent years, the global landscape for human rights defenders (HRDs) has become more difficult and complex, with both new and heightened challenges. With hundreds of defenders killed every year, the scale and magnitude of threats faced by HRDs is unprecedented.

And our response to this is severely lacking. Authoritarian and repressive forces are ever more emboldened by a permissive international environment, which fails to protect HRDs and hold aggressors to account.

Civic space restrictions, conflict and crises, climate crisis, technological threats, rising authoritarianism and anti-gender policies all significantly affect the work, safety and well-being of HRDs.

But thankfully, there is a flipside to this grim panorama. I recently had the privilege of spending some time with five HRDs who are among those leading the charge against these sobering trends. Courageously, they are stepping up to these challenges, to fight for their space, to champion collective rights and to stand for a better, more just world.

In all cases, they demonstrate a steadfast commitment to the communities they support and represent. They offer inspiration for our times, and give us all reason to continue to care, to stand together in solidarity and to speak out and act.

These five HRDs are remarkable agents of positive change – representing our best chance to withstand, counter and find solutions to the significant challenges we face today.

However, they all face tremendous personal risk because of their human rights work – with ongoing threats to their security, well-being and reputations and the safety of their families. As we met with diplomats, dignitaries and like-minded organizations in Dublin and Brussels, our Award winners told us about the cost to them and their families and communities, and the huge personal sacrifice they make.

In some cases, they literally put their lives on the line to continue with their crucial work in defense of human rights; in others, they have been labelled “terrorists”; organizations they support have been criminalized; or their family members have faced threats and abduction.

That is why, as Front Line Defenders, we will continue to work directly with HRDs to advocate with governments, international institutions and corporations, to ensure that the crucial work HRDs do to advance human rights and justice is valued and that as individuals they are respected and protected.

Read the rest at IPS

Related: Front Line Defenders Announces Winners of 2023 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk (Front Line Defenders)

Related: Mexico: Human Rights Defender Cirio Ruiz González Arbitrarily Detained (Front Line Defenders)

  Learn about R3D: Digital Rights Defense Network

  Learn about Las Libres

  Learn about Equality Now

  Learn about CARE Mexico

  Learn about Colectivo 50+1

  Learn about Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

  Learn about Center for Victims of Torture

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