Protests against rising cost of electricity in Yerevan, Armenia. © Front Line Defenders, July 2015

In addition to their commitment to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups, HRDs play an important role in drafting legislation that, for example, promotes gender equality or protects minorities. In doing so, they make a tangible contribution to improving the situation of the communities concerned in their region or country. HRDs make a significant contribution to the implementation of internationally recognised human rights standards.

Switzerland supports the work of human rights defenders (HRD) and aims to improve their protection on the ground from arbitrary treatment, threats and violence. The FDFA's guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders serve as a framework for the Swiss representations abroad.

Switzerland's representations abroad support HRD in documenting human rights violations. They also intervene if HRDface restrictions on their freedom of expression or in cases of extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance. In such instances, the representations work together with the relevant state bodies as well as representatives of like-minded countries, non-governmental organisations and international initiatives.

Swiss Guidelines human rights defenders

UN standards on the protection of HRD

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive peacefully for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. States have a duty to protect these people.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on this matter in 1998, establishing the first-ever international standards on the protection of HRD.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of HRD carries out regular country visits and acts as a contact point for complaints.

UN Declaration on the Protection of HRD, OHCHR

Who is a HRD, OHCHR

Webpage of the Special Rapporteur on the situation HRD, OHCHR

Last update 25.07.2023


Peace and Human Rights Division

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