Open Letter to Authorities

HRC52: Support consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders


27 February 2023

To: All UN Member States

Human rights defenders are people who act with humanity, serve humanity and who contribute to and bring out the best in humanity. They are key to our daily lives - they work so our governments are more transparent and accountable, our environment cleaner and safer, our schools and workplaces fairer, and our futures more sustainable. As human rights defenders confront power, privilege and prejudice, they frequently face a wide range of risks and threats, including against their organisations and their families, friends and loved ones. Despite their vital contribution, both some governments and non-State actors are still seeking to silence defenders as they expose injustices and demand accountability for all.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is integral to their protection and recognition, globally. It gathers and responds to information on the situation of defenders around the world, engages constructively with governments and non-State actors and provides expert recommendations to promote the effective implementation of the ‘Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (The Declaration on human rights defenders).

2023 marks 25 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on human rights defenders. The adoption of the Declaration was a critical point in human rights history where it articulated how existing human rights law applies to the situation of human rights defenders, recognised the importance and legitimacy of human rights activity, and the need to protect it along with those who carry it out. It is apposite that this major anniversary coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, reflecting the integral role that human rights defenders play in the realisation of universal human rights.

In 2022, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and its full and effective implementation, and that promoting respect, support and protection for the activities of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights, including in conflict and post-conflict situations. In 2021, the General Assembly passed by consensus with 85 State co-sponsors a resolution acknowledging the important and legitimate role that human rights defenders played in the COVID-19 response, as well as the challenges faced as a result.

At the 52 nd session of the Council, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years. This is a key opportunity for States and the Council to demonstrate their support and recognition for the indispensable role human rights defenders play to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Our organisations therefore urge all States to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by:

● participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution;
● presenting early co-sponsorship of the text;
● resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations; and
● supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.



1. ACAT Belgium

2. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)

3. ACAT Italia


5. ACAT Spain-Catalonia


7. ACAT-France

8. ACAT-Liberia

9. ACAT-Switzerland

10. ACAT-UK (Action by Christians Against Torture – UK)

11. Accion Solidaria on HIV/Aids

12. Action by Christians against Torture in Togo (ACAT TOGO)

13. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture – Canada

14. action by Christians for the abolition of torture – Congo

15. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) – Cameroon

16. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture of Côte d’Ivoire

17. Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture in Burundi (Acat-Burundi)

18. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

19. African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum

20. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains

21. AlertaVenezuela

22. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man


24. Alliance for Democracy in Laos

25. American Association of University Women (AAUW)

26. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

27. Amnesty International

28. Amnesty International Mongolia

29. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

30. Asian Legal Resource Center

31. Association for Progressive Communications – APC

32. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development

33. association for the respect of indigenous rights, sustainable development and human right

34. Association for women and Children at Risk

35. Association of balal

36. Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)

37. Aula Abierta

38. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)

39. Brot für die Welt

40. Burkina Faso Coaltion of Human Right Defenders (CBDDH)

41. Bytes For All, Pakistan

42. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

43. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

44. Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

45. Center to Alternatives to Development

46. Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa (CHRDA)

47. Centro de Alternativas al Desarrollo (CEALDES) – Colombia

48. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

49. Child Rights Connect


51. CIVILIS Human Rights

52. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)

53. Committee for Free Expression (Comité por la Libre Expresión C-Libre)

54. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization

55. Community Resource Centre (CRC)

56. Coordiantion of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience

57. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

58. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)

59. Emonyo Yefwe International

60. End Impunity Organization

61. Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial – ECAP

62. Euro-mediterranean federation against enforced disappearances

63. European Network Against Racism

64. Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany

65. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the

framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights


66. Forum Menschenrechte

67. Franciscans International

68. Freedom House

69. GALE, The Global Alliance for LGBT Education

70. Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training (GHR)

71. Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities

72. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

73. Global Human Rights Group

74. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

75. Global Observatory of Communication and Democracy (OGCD)

76. Gulf Centre for Human Rights

77. Habitat International Coalition

78. Hallmark Media

79. Human Rights Association (Insan Haklari Dernegi)

80. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

81. Human Rights Council of Australia

82. Human Rights Defenders Fund

83. Human Rights House Foundation

84. Humanists International

85. Idheas. Strategic Human Rights Litigation

86. IFEX

87. ILEX Acción Jurídica

88. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)

89. Inclusive Bangladesh

90. Indigenous Peoples Rights International

91. Initiative for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Inc.

92. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)

93. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)

94. International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka

95. International Commission of Jurists

96. International Commission of Jurists Australia

97. International Dalit Solidarity Network

98. International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT)

99. International Planned Parenthood Federation

100. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

101. International volunteer organization for women education development

102. Intersex Society of Zambia

103. Ivorian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CIDDH)

104. Journalists and Writers Foundation (

105. Judicial Reform Foundation Taiwan

106. Karapatan Alliance Philippines

107. KIOS Foundation

108. Law Society of England and Wales

109. Lawyers without Borders Canada

110. Maldivian Democracy Network

111. Mauritanian association for socio-educational development

112. MENA Rights Group

113. Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras)

114. Mongolian Women’s Employment Supporting Federation

115. Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA)

116. Network of the independent Commission for Human rights in North Africa CIDH AFRICA


118. Organization Solidarity Development


120. Peace Brigades International

121. People Forum for Human Rights(People Forum)

122. PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants)

123. Plateforme Droits de l’Homme

124. POS Foundation

125. Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)


127. Protection International Mesoamérica

128. Public Verdict Foundation

129. Rainbow Pride Foundation

130. Red Dot Foundation

131. Refugee Council of Australia

132. Renewable Freedom Foundation

133. Riposte Internationale

134. Rivers without Boundaries

135. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

136. Safety and Rights Society (SRS)

137. SAHR

138. Scholars at Risk

139. SHOAA for Human Rights

140. Society for Threatened Peoples

141. SOS-Esclaves

142. Speak Up

143. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE )

144. Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)

145. Swedwatch

146. Syrians for Truth and Justice – STJ

147. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House

148. The Community Action Center at Al-Quds University

149. The Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE)

150. The Kvinna till Kvinna foundation

151. The Norwegian Human Rights Fund

152. The Regional Coalition for WHRDs in MENA (WHRDMENA Coalition)

153. The William Gomes Podcast

154. Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders

155. Tournons La Page

156. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)

157. Viet Tan

158. West African Human Rights Defenders Network

159. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

160. Women’s World Summit Foundation

161. World Justice Project

162. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework

of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

163. World Uyghur Congress (WUC)

164. WWF International

165. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs

166. Youth Care Motivators

167. Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia

168. Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN)

169. Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF)

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