In celebration of International Human Rights Day, we are proud to announce the release of ‘The Defenders’, a short film by Manu Valcarce exploring the experience of being a human rights defender in countries where the rule of law is fragile.

Human Rights Day celebrates the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly, a landmark document that sets out the rights and freedoms to which every one of us is entitled. Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all who struggle to advance human rights around the world, those who risk their lives and liberty to speak out and secure the rights to which we are all entitled. We celebrate those who came before us – the famous and the anonymous - and remember those who lost their lives in the struggle.

Over 3,500 human rights defenders have been murdered for their peaceful work since the adoption of the Declaration in 1998 and many thousands more have faced violence, persecution and attacks. Despite the dangers, human rights defenders continue to provide voices for the voiceless, championing justice, holding states to account and pushing for human rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled .

PBI has provided lifesaving protection and support to Human Rights Defenders around the globe by providing a permanent field presence by the side of at risk defenders and by engaging diplomats, legal figures and influential figures in life death actions in support of HRDs.

PBI believes that a world without human rights defenders is a world without human rights.  We will continue to ensure that, despite the huge challenges that defenders face in the current political and economic contexts the world finds itself in, they receive the recognition and support they deserve so they are able to continue their fundamental work in secure conditions.

‘The Defenders’ film forms part of ‘The Right to Defend : Portraits of Resilience, Hope and Solidarity’, a multi-media communications and awareness campaign that recognises and celebrates the hope and resilience of human rights defenders. The film explores the work of grassroots defenders, the risks they take, and how the international community can make a tangible difference.

Whether they are fighting for social equality, access to justice and a fair trial, or land, environmental and indigenous rights, the risks that human rights defenders take are many.

“I am the voice of those who can’t speak. I am the voice of those who can’t express themselves. If I’m going to die, let it be for a good cause.” - Nallely Paola, co-ordinator of the Muñequitas project for trans women at Arcoíris Organisation Honduras

We believe their stories set an example of solidarity and humanity that needs to be heard. Over the next year, PBI will celebrate the resilience of these individuals and collectives through thematic videos, a feature-length documentary, a touring photographic exhibition, and an online platform under the ‘Right to Defend’ banner.

With your help, we can continue to be there for those who need us. Stand in solidarity and donate today.


“They were heaven sent. They always seemed to be there at the right time.” - Tita Dadilla, Mexican human rights defender, on PBI volunteers