Celebrate Human Rights Day by supporting at-risk human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Today is Human Rights Day!

As the United Nations notes, “Human Rights Day commemorates the 10 December 1948 adoption by the UN General Assembly of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the inalienable rights of all people.”

The UN adds, “It is an annual reminder that everyone is entitled to all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, social origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status.”

Key human rights include the right to peaceful social protest, the right to a healthy environment, the right to clean water, the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent (notably against extractive industries and mega-projects), the right to freedom of expression (including by journalists and social communicators), the right to sexual orientation and gender identity, the right to migration, and the right not to be tortured or forcibly disappeared.

And as the UN COP25 climate summit continues on this day in Madrid, Spain we are mindful of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s comment on climate change: “The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope.”

Bachelet has highlighted, “The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted [by climate change].”

Human rights defenders play a critical role in upholding human rights and their right to defend human rights without threats, restrictions and insecurity must also be fully respected.

In 2018, 321 defenders in 27 countries were targeted and killed for their work according to data collected by Front Line Defenders. More than three-quarters of the activists killed were defending land, environmental or indigenous peoples’ rights, often in the context of extractive industries and state-aligned mega-projects.

In the countries where Peace Brigades International has field projects: 126 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia, 48 in Mexico, 26 in Guatemala, 8 in Honduras, and 1 in Kenya. Many more were threatened and criminalized.

To support the physical and political accompaniment provided by Peace Brigades International to at-risk human rights defenders, please consider making an online donation here.

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