PBI UK meets regularly with officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and members of the Human Rights and Democracy Group. Through sharing our recommendations and insights from the field with these high-level decision makers, we pressure the UK government to ensure its own accountability and act as a champion for the protection of human rights defenders internationally.

Among other of our achievements, the FCO has included the recommendations from PBI’s Conference on Security and Protection for Human Rights Defenders in its action plan for embassy staff around the world.

PBI UK also shares its knowledge and expertise through participation in coalitions such as ABColombia and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition.

In light of the urgent need to improve protections for defenders in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, PBI UK engaged with the UK government and requested that they raise the issue of human rights defenders at the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council in 2019. We presented our recommendations at a pre-meeting with the Foreign Office and requested that the UK pay specific attention to UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst’s reports on the situation of women human rights defenders and on Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala, and Colombia. We also asked the UK to mention the situation of land and environmental rights defenders due to the severity of the threats and attacks they experience for carrying out their work. These requests were both successful.

In July 2019, the UK Government released a policy paper on ‘UK Support for Human Rights Defenders’. This document outlines the importance of human rights defenders, and how the UK government can best support their work. The policy was developed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development in close consultation with a number of non-governmental organisations (including PBI UK) and human rights defenders. The guidelines outlined UK policy on supporting human rights defenders and included PBI’s recommendations for strengthening protections for rural LERDs in the context of business-led human rights violations.