Special Rapporteur launches website for human rights defenders

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, has launched a website where people will be able to stay up to date on the latest activities of the mandate for the protection of human rights defenders at risk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for the growing importance of online communities and work. Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor has spent the first year of her mandate to find new ways to promote the work of human rights defenders:

“Since taking up my mandate in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic I, like everyone else, have spent the year working online. This has been an opportunity to expand the ways promote the work of Human Rights Defenders in online spaces. [...] At srdefenders.org, you'll find the latest news and information about Human Rights Defenders and what my mandate is doing to protect them. Start exploring now!” UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor

About the website


On the new website, visitors can reading up on the work of human rights defenders and the challenges they face, and learn more about the role of the Special Rapporteur and how to get in touch with her team. Most importantly, people can discover resources useful to them as a human rights defenders, state representatives, business entities or as civil society organisations.

Under the tab “Official letters and statements” one can find a selection of letters and press releases that the Special Rapporteur issues through the UN Special Procedures. Under the “Latest information received by the SR” section, one can find additional information on human rights defenders at risk as well as interesting reports, news, and stories that the Special Rapporteur hears from defenders around the world. The website publishes blogs in various languages including Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese with options to translate into English for most of them. The blog “Human Rights Voice – Stigmatisation of Human Rights Defenders” was the first blog published after the announcement of website launch on 20 May 2021. Under the tab “What the Special Rapporteur Can & Can’t do” one can find a very detailed and precise definition of the Special Rapporteur’s work, her capacity, action plan and even limitations.

The Special Rapporteur hopes this website becomes a space where human rights defenders, state officials, journalists, business people, and all those interested in the work of human rights defenders feel welcome and find useful information. One can also provide feedback on the website by clicking the “Contact” button on the top right corner and getting in touch with her team!

About the mandate

The United Nations Human Rights Commission first established the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders in 2000. This mandate was created to promote the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in cooperation and dialogue with governments and other actors. The mandate is used to study developments and challenges on the right to promote and protect human rights and recommend effective strategies to better protect defenders and integrate a gender perspective, and to pay particular attention to women human rights defenders. The mandate was most recently renewed by the Human Rights Council in 2020 with decision 43/115 and resolution 43/16.

Ms. Mary Lawlor took up the mandate of Special Rapport on the situation of human rights defenders on 1 May 2020, following the Human Rights Council decision 43/115. She is currently Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. Ms. Lawlor was the founder and director of Front Line Defenders (2001-2016) and Director of Amnesty International Ireland (1988 to 2000). She is also a member of the NHRF's Advisory Board.

Main photo: Mónica Orjuela/NHRF.

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