Working with activists around the world, Human Rights First advocates for policies and practices by the U.S. government and international community that would protect and promote human rights defenders and their work. Our work is guided by the principle set forth in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.”
- Promoting and protecting defenders: We amplify the voices of human rights defenders in foreign policy debates and promote greater understanding about the crucial role they play in fighting for universal rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Broader policies: We promote policies and practices so human rights defenders can work openly and freely. These efforts include advocating to the U.S. Department of State to publicly adopt guidelines on its engagement with human rights defenders worldwide.
- Defenders at risk: We bring the cases of individual human rights defenders at risk to the attention of the international community. We also coordinate with the NGO community to provide support and services to defenders facing threats to their lives and livelihoods.
What Are the Focus Countries of the Human Rights Defenders Program?
While human rights defenders face persecution worldwide, we focus our efforts on a limited number of countries to maximize effectiveness.
Our current target countries include Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, and China. Within each country, we maintain a narrow focus on reforms of a few central policies and practices. We also leverage our expertise and contacts in those countries to promote the role of defenders in U.S. foreign policy and U.N. mechanisms such as the new Universal Periodic Review process. In doing so, we highlight thematic issues common to our target countries such as the abuse of blasphemy laws and threats faced by women human rights defenders.
We also maintain contacts in many other countries and take action when we see opportunities to support local activists at risk. We are especially likely to act when a country experiences a political crisis that affects defenders, as in Pakistan in late 2007.
How can I learn more about Human Rights Defenders and the Human Rights Defenders Program?
To learn more about the Human Rights Defenders Program, please visit our main page for the latest news and press releases, and links to all our work.
To learn more about human rights defenders, see the following documents:
- U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
- U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: Human Rights First Analysis
- European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders
- Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
How can I contact the Human Rights Defenders Program?
For any additional questions or inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.