Many thanks for supporting our Shoulder to Shoulder campaign!

The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was a milestone in human rights history. It recognised that human rights are not only granted by law, but upheld by those who struggle for their protection. The responsibility to protect human rights lies with all of us; every person can and should be a Human Rights Defender.

Now more than ever, as human rights are under threat across the world, is the time for this global community of Human Rights Defenders to stand together.

While the UN Declaration recognised the crucial role of defenders in upholding human rights, its framework has not prevented the killing of over 3500 defenders in the more than 20 years since. Many more continue to suffer escalating threats, attacks and criminalisation. If we are to build protections that are fit for purpose for the next 20 years, we must listen to the voices of at-risk defenders as they reflect on the successes and failures of the current system. This is why we are launching our new "Shoulder to Shoulder" campaign.

Over the coming months, the campaign will share the stories of PBI-supported human rights defenders from around the world. Their experiences show viscerally the dangers involved in their work, in a context where human rights are suffering pushback across the globe and those who suffer most are those already marginalised. But their stories also provide inspiring examples of what non-violent civil society activism can achieve: challenging injustice and impunity, defending the marginalised, building functional legal systems. Their perspectives also provide crucial guides for the future of defender protection.

  • Throughout October, we focus on grassroots voices: marginalised communities who have fought back against state and corporate assaults on their lands, resources and rights.
  • In November, we show how civil society activism can succeed in reforming repressive and corrupt systems, building peace founded on democratic participation and the rule of law.
  • In December we look to the future, sharing the perspectives of at-risk defenders on the action needed from states, corporations and the international community to make the promises of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders a reality.

We will be working tirelessly to advocate and engage with the UK government to ensure that these invaluable perspectives are heard, and to insist they are reflected in stronger efforts to protect defenders.

We need your support to ensure this can happen. PBI has been providing direct protection to human rights defenders on the ground for over 35 years. Yet in the midst of a global trend of closing civil society space, we urgently need to increase our work at the international level, to secure the systemic change that is necessary to improve protections for every human rights defender globally.

We hope that you will join us, shoulder to shoulder with human rights defenders around the world.

If you share our vision of a world where individuals and communities can defend their fundamental rights without fear of reprisals and violence then please consider donating to our campaign.