ProtectDefenders.eu, the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism, is organising the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018, as part of a coalition of international human rights NGOs, and with the support of the European Union. The HRD World Summit 2018 will be be held in Paris, France on 29, 30, 31 October 2018.
On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018 will constitute an opportunity to review the progress made in the defence of human rights and in the protection of all those that defend these rights in all their diversity since the adoption of the Declaration. By creating a unique platform for the human rights defenders' voices to be heard, this Summit will also call for the international community to reinforce its commitments to protect human rights defenders, celebrate the essential work HRDs carry out in the most difficult environments, and raise awareness about the threats, obstacles and restrictions HRD are constantly confronted with. The Summit intends to shape the upcoming human rights defenders' agenda, showing the way forward to the international community engaged in the protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of a safer and more enabling environment.
The Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018 will bring together a diverse group of human rights defenders, from around the world. More than 150 HRDs are are getting ready to participate in the HRD World Summit 2018. This diverse and inclusive group aspires to represent the voices of the communities and defenders in shaping the future agenda for the protection of human rights defenders. These HRDS at the forefront of the struggles for social, political and environmental changes will have the opportunity to connect, work and debate together and engage with regional and international human rights organisations, global leaders from governments, the United Nations, and the private sector.
The Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018 will celebrate the achievements of the last 20 years and look forward to the next two decades. It is the main goal of this Summit that, 20 years from now, in 2038, a new generation of HRDs will look back and see this event as marking the transition to a new paradigm to approaching the security and protection of HRDs.
The Summit will combine plenaries, group discussions, roundtables and workshops. These sessions will be led by Human Rights Defenders and some of them will be live-streamed.
Make sure you visit its website for updated versions, confirmed speakers and additional information.
We have been very honored to receive more than 1,400 expressions of interest from as many human rights defenders. The organisations convening the HRD World Summit 2018 are grateful to all the courageous individuals -representing countless struggles for social progress, development and justice in the most difficult and challenging places- who have sent their applications. Given the very limited number of available places, the process of evaluation and selection of candidates has been very difficult and complex. It has prioritized the promotion of diversity, scope, balance and representativeness when shaping the delegation of 150 defenders who will attend the upcoming HRD World Summit 2018.
From the Summit or from your community, we hope that you will still be part of the global community of the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018. From today, your voice, your involvement and your mobilization will be key to promote the global movement of human rights defenders and advocate for a new paradigm for the HRD’s protection and empowerment. Before, during, and after the Summit.
We count on you to multiply the impact and relevance of the Human Rights Defendres World Summit Summit 2018!
ProtectDefenders.eu is seeking to recruit an experienced manager to run the Secretariat of the mechanism in Brussels and to ensure coordination of the project implementation and all related financial and narrative reporting. This is an exciting opportunity for a experienced manager with strong communication skills who will play a crucial role in the successful implementation of the project.
From July 17 to 23 of this year, three defenders from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras left their homes and headed to the north of the continent to participate in an advocacy mission organized by PBI, with funding from ProtectDefenders.eu, in Washington DC. The mission organised aimed at making the security situation of human rights defenders visible with key actors that can have an impact on their protection.
This specific mission focused on the vulnerability of defenders of the land, the territory and the environment in the region; on the aggressions that they face because of their work and their protection needs. A key objective of this delegation was to make visible the violence that comes with 'development' in many territories, as well as the damage that results from the participation of military forces involved in acts of repression against communities in resistance. Another objective was to highlight the lack of protection offered by the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico to those who defend economic, social and cultural rights and ensure commitments by the actors with whom they met to influence their improvement of their security conditions.
During the week the defenders had the opportunity to about their respective situations of risk because of the work that each one carries out in the defense of the land and territory and their countries. They met with 14 offices of members of Congress and the Senate and with the Department of the State of the United States. They also spoke with several NGOs to update them on their various cases and seek international support for their struggles.
Raúl Caal Ical, member of the Cahabón Peace Resistance who opposes the Oxec hydroelectric project in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; Melvin Ariel, human rights lawyer of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) in Honduras; and José Ángel Rivas Vega, member of the Ódami indigenous community and Coordinator of the Campo de la Alianza Sierra Madre AC (ASMAC) explained the situation in which they live because of their work defending the land and territory in the Sierra Tarahumara in the state of Chihuahua.
José Ángel dedicates part of his work in ASMAC to advise projects aimed at the conservation and protection of the environment, giving a cultural perspective to these projects. He also participates in the interpretation and cultural translation of texts on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, he participates as an interpreter and translator in the hearings of the Superior Court of Justice of Chihuahua. The organization ASMAC was created in the nineties and since its constitution works with peoples and communities of the Sierra Tarahumara promoting their rights to defend the land and territory, their preferential access to natural resources, rights to food, education and to the full exercise of their culture. ASMAC, apart from accompanying and empowering indigenous communities to know and be able to demand their rights, also participates in dialogue processes with authorities and other civil society actors to sensitize them to the rights of the communities.
Melvin Ariel is a lawyer and legal coordinator of MADJ in Honduras. Ariel has worked with the family of Berta Cáceres in the trial about her murder in 2016 and has represented several defenders of the land, territory and environment criminalized for their work. The MADJ has supported indigenous and peasant communities - for example the community of Pajuiles in Atlántida and the community of San Francisco Locomapa of the Tolupán people - in their vindication for the right to free, prior and informed consultation on the implementation of economic projects in your territories. Due to this work, members of the MADJ have suffered threats, attacks, criminalization, raids and even murders. The visit to Washington DC allowed Ariel to dialogue with government and civil society actors in the United States to give visibility to this situation. For Ariel, the visit was positive to establish contacts with potential allies and consolidate a support network in the United States.
Raul Caal Ical is Q'eqchi 'Maya and member of the Cahabón Peace Resistance, a municipality with 195 communities in Alta Verapaz. Since 2015, the communities are organizing to defend their territory and the Cahabón and Oxec rivers before the arrival of the hydroelectric company, OXEC, S.A. who wants to build two dams. The Guatemalan state allowed the company to start construction without having consulted the affected population, as established in ILO Convention 169. Faced with this, the communities organized their own consultation in good faith in August 2017 in which more than 26 thousand people from the
In July 2018, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) conducted a training around digital security for LGBTI human rights defenders, supported by ProtectDefenders.eu. For three days, 19 participants from twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean gathered together in Mexico City to learn how to integrate holistic and digital security into their organisational practices. Now more than ever, it is crucial for human rights defenders to learn how to make informed decisions when communicating online, and safely exercise their rights without falling prey to preventable digital threats. This is all the more true for those defending the rights of communities of sexual, gender and sex minorities: as much as the opening of digital spaces has helped LGBTI individuals break their isolation, it has also made people’s privacy and work to help change public awareness more exposed to attacks.
Many human rights defenders are indeed aware of the techno-political context around them, but sometimes lack the resources to protect themselves. This is where this training came in handy, immediately familiarising participants with concrete methods for improving their digital security. A few interactive role-play activities introduced defenders to the structure of the Internet and of mobile phone network technologies, highlighting where potential threats to their work were hiding. During the training, participants also received an intensive introduction to encryption for emails, messages and sensitive data, and learnt a few good practices on how to protect their accounts and create strong passwords.
Those days proved to be an intense capacity building experience for all the defenders involved: not only they had the opportunity to immediately test what they were learning, but also built skills that they can now use in their activism, and transfer within their own communities.
From July 28 to August 1, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, Michel Forst, visited Colombia in the framework of an academic invitation convened by the Institute of Political Studies of the National University of Colombia, IERPI. PBI had an important leadership in the coordination of the visit, under the advocacy programme supported by ProtectDefenders.eu.
The visit was an important occasion to make visible the delicate situation in which human rights defenders are found in Colombia: since January 1, 2016, more than 300 people, social leaders or defenders were murdered, according to figures from the Ombudsman's Office. After two days of traveling throughout Colombia to meet with defenders of the territory, Michel Forst arrived in Bogotá with a more complete agenda. A space was organized with Colombian civil society organizations to share an analysis of the situation in Colombia, of the Peace Agreements and the progress of their implementation, the attacks on leaders and the progress of the investigations by the Office of the Prosecutor. Many concerns were shared about the persistence of the armed conflict in the territories, where there is no clarity about the different actors and about the fact that the structural causes of the armed conflict have not yet been resolved, the little advance in land restitution and the fact that human rights defenders continue to be the target of stigmatization and attacks for defending their territories against megaprojects, as is the case of Ríos vivos Antioquia fighting against the damages of Hidroituango.
Michel Forst listened to all the testimonies with great attention and stressed the need to debate and build collective protection measures, and that Colombia has special attention from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN (OACHNUD). He also had the opportunity to meet with State institutions and United Nations agencies.On August 31, the academic event was organized with the focus on the importance of the role of defenders in the construction of peace. The Attorney General of the nation, Fernando Carrillo, the representative of the OACHNUD office in Colombia, Alberto Brunori, and Michel Forst introduced the event with speeches of support and support for the work of the defenders and the need to advance the fight against the impunity of these attacks in order to guarantee that these events are not repeated, as well as the need to implement effective prevention and protection measures, and to deconstruct the discourses that continue to stigmatize social leaders. It is expected that Dr. Michel Forst will soon be officially invited to Colombia.
The latest issue of the ProtectDefenders.eu monthly digest of alerts reports on the aggravated crackdown against women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. ProtectDefenders.eu’s partners reiterate the call to put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders in the country. In addition, the Consortium implementing the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism is warning about the systematic persecution and judicial repression of human rights defenders in Vietnam, restrictions to travel faced by human rights defenders in Mauritania, and threats and harassment of human rights defenders in Western Sahara.
Moreover, more than 40 attacks and threats have been reported last month, according to the ProtectDefenders.eu Index of Attacks and Alerts.
The Secretariat of ProtectDefenders.eu is looking for a grants officer, a position based in Brussels. Applications comprising a CV with at least two references and a cover letter should be sent by email to recruit@ProtectDefenders.eu before October 5th. The successful candidate will be expected to start work in November if possible. Given the project period of the Programme, the initial contract will be one year.