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Joint statement on the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

GENEVA – UN human rights experts* urge all States to fully implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure the freedom of human rights defenders to act without interference, intimidation, abuse, threat, violence, reprisal or undue restriction.

The experts, calling for a set of minimum international standards to ensure the security and safety of those promoting and protecting fundamental rights and freedoms, issued a statement commemorating the 20th anniversary of the declaration on 9 December. In part it reads:


“There can be no realisation of human rights without [human rights defenders] ‑ their courageous voices contribute to peace, security and sustainable development.


Around the world, shrinking civic space has meant that human rights defenders are being increasingly targeted as a result of their work. We recall the appalling fact that between 2015 and 2017, on average, one person was killed every day while standing up for human rights.


As we mark the 20th anniversary of this milestone declaration, we celebrate the unwavering efforts and hard-won achievements of all those who defend human rights ‑ particularly of those who have done so, and continue to do so, in the face of great adversity.”


The full statement is available at:




* The experts work for “Special Procedures” which is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic human rights issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 44 thematic mandates and 12 mandates related to countries and territories, with 80 active mandate holders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates. Learn more, go to:

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