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What are the obligations of States?

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What are the obligations of States?

States have the obligation to respect and implement all the provisions of the Declaration, and in particular to ensure the rights and protections contained for human rights defenders.

The Declaration on human rights defenders specifically provides that each State has the obligation and the responsibility:


  • To protect, promote and implement all human rights, and more precisely to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction are able to enjoy all social, economic, political and other rights and freedoms in practice


In every decision, the State has to take into account human rights and act to make these rights a reality for all. For example, the State should take all the necessary measures to establish social, economic or judicial guarantees that respect human rights and ensure that these measures are properly implemented.


  • To raise awareness of human rights


States have the obligation to publish and make available legislation and other instruments relating to human rights so that everyone can know and exercise their fundamental rights.


  • To ensure and support the creation and development of independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights


Those institutions may be ombudsman, human rights commission or any other type of national institution. This obligation is essential as the creation of such institutions enables individuals to be aware of State’s behaviours in human rights issues.


  • To provide an effective remedy for persons who claim to have been victims of a human rights violation and to conduct prompt and impartial investigations of alleged human rights violations


States must receive all complaints submitted by human rights defenders. It must ensure that a prompt and impartial investigation will be conducted or that an investigation procedure will be put in place whenever there is a suspicion of violation of human rights or fundamental freedoms.


  • To take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of everyone against any violence, threat, retaliation, discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action of his or her legitimate exercise of the right referred to in the Declaration 


This means that States have the obligation to provide effective and tailored protection to each defender, and this, for all the difficulties he/she may face in the exercise of his/her activities.


  • To promote and facilitate human rights education at all levels of formal education and professional training


States must ensure that every person is in the possibility to receive human rights education. In this purpose, States make sure that it is the case within the formal education system under its responsibility (in schools, colleges, universities, etc.) or in professional trainings to professional groups that may be in contact with human rights defenders such as lawyers, judges, police officers, etc.



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