Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels." - Article 1, UN Declaration on human rights defenders, adopted in 1998.
Human rights defenders are at the forefront of the ongoing struggle for freedom, human rights and the rule of law. They fight tirelessly, and non-violently, to build peaceful societies in some of the world's most dangerous countries.
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) may address any political, civil, economic, social or cultural human right. They may be groups or individuals organising to protect their natural environment, or working to discover the truth about enforced disappearances. They may be women's groups supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, or indigenous communities struggling for recognition of their land rights. They may be lawyers, offering legal advice to marginalised communities, or representing victims of state violence.
In countries where communities are subject to violent conflict, intimidation or repression, human rights defenders can be key agents for resistance and change, whose work has the potential to bring about the long-term development of democratic civil society and ultimately peace. This often places them at risk, making them targets for threats, abductions, forced disappearance or assassination, and other insidious kinds of attack, including public stigmatisation, defamation or criminal proceedings on trumped up charges.
Globally, and in many of the countries where we work, human rights, the rule of law and democracy are all on the defensive. So too are human rights defenders. They face increasing levels of harassment, attacks and intimidation. Fundamental rights and freedoms, like those of association and expression, are restricted. And many are jailed, disappeared, or even murdered. Last year over 300 were killed, the worst year on record, adding to over 3000 who have been killed since the UN issued a declaration to protect human rights defenders.
PBI exists to support and protect these courageous people who stand up for the rights and dignity of their communities because they believe in peace and justice for all. PBI's international volunteers bring visible support and represent an international spotlight that helps deter violence, allowing defenders to continue their legitimate work without fear.
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