“They are ‘Gandhis’ and ‘Mandelas’. They are ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’. They are also ordinary individuals, lawyers, women activists, community leaders, journalists, unionists and environmentalists who strive to re-claim our rights and promote our freedoms.”
So begins a powerful statement by Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, ahead of International Human Rights Day on 10 December. The statement emphasises the crucial role of human rights defenders in international law, calling on states to adopt concrete measures for their protection and parliamentarians to be vigilant against laws that restrict civil society space and criminalise human rights activities.