Watching the watchmen : the defense and promotion of human rights by human rights defenders in local, national and international contexts and the protection of their activity
Naranjo Barroso, Diego Javier
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Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) have emerged as a single cathegory that includes all those who defend and promote human rights and other universally recognized rights and freedoms. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders is the main norm regarding this topic, although the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and other instruments at international and state level have emerged since then, with different outcomes. The concept of HRDs embraces a number of different actors (NGOs, Social Movements, individual activists and human rights field officers) that have in common their work to strengthen human rights in their different levels of action. Their activity as HRDs influences positively on the situation of human rights but also involves some risks for HRDs themselves such as criminalisation, violence and disappearances. The existence of protection mechanisms is a positive step but those measures need to be reinforced and updated regularly since the protection of HRDs means, undoubtedly, the protection of human rights. Keywords: Human rights defenders; NGOs; social movements; activism.