Support to Human Rights Defenders at risk

The NHRF supports projects working for the protection of human rights defenders at risk. Project applications for this thematic area are assessed independently from the NHRF's geographical priorities, but applications from our priority countries are also welcome. In 2019 the NHRF supported 21 active HRDs at Risk projects with a specific focus on better working conditions and protection of human rights defenders. The 21 projects were located in 4 of our priority countries, 7 non-priority countries, and 5 were global/regional initiatives.

In addition to our priority country support, the NHRF started supporting initiatives that helped us build a programme for the protection of human rights defenders at risk in the 2013-2015 period. The june 2016 report gives an overview of the efforts supported, visualizes to what extent we fulfilled the aim of the strategy to this programmatic support, and gives insight as to what may be ahead for the NHRF’s support of HRDs. In 2018, we conducted an internal assessment of our implementation of our 2016-2020 strategy that builds on the 2016 report and helps us further understand the trends in programmatic needs for HRD initiatives.

Human rights defenders have always been integral to the NHRF vision. Since the NHRF’s inception in 1988, our goal has been to act as a flexible, risk-willing, and responsive contributor to human rights defenders working in the frontline of defence for human rights. Our early support has evolved into a focus on the working conditions for supported human rights organisations and defenders by: working closer with more organisations specialising in security; creating "Guidelines on Security and Protection for Grantees in the Field", and providing capacity building and additional funds, so grantees can address their security issues while undertaking their work.

Download NHRF's Security Guidelines here
“[The NHRF] has been extremely supportive in helping us develop our capacity as an organization: not only facilitating the rapporteur’s visit and joining it, but also making connections between the HRDF and global networks of similar organizations, ... helping us apply for relevant training for our advocacy coordinator, and more! We know and feel you are a committed partner, every step of the way”.

For HRD Grantseekers

The NHRF’s grant support is open to organisations working for the protection of human rights defenders (HRD) independent from our geographical priorities. HRD grants can be given to organisations, institutions, networks, and groups working for the protection of human rights defenders regardless of the country of origin, however at least one the following aims of the program must be met:

  • Better protection of human rights defenders at risk
  • Better working conditions for human rights defenders
  • Support human rights defenders were the situation is critical

Also, HRD projects with the following qualities are prioritised:

  • Project that can avert immediate risk or give immediate relief;
  • Project that focuses on defenders situation needing special attention, such as women HRDs and HRDs from vulnerable and marginalised groups;
  • Project that work with a meaningful link between local/national/international level.

The NHRF does not support individual HRDs, but focuses on organisations, institutions, networks and groups working for the protection of HRDs. To read more about the NHRF conditions for support and priorities, please read our FAQ for Grantseekers.

WHO WE SUPPORT

The NHRF supported 21 active HRDs at Risk projects in 2019 with a specific focus on better working conditions and protection of human rights defenders. The 21 projects were located in 4 of our priority countries, 7 non-priority countries, and 5 were global/regional initiatives. Our grantee partners work as both HRDs and to support (W)HRDs who promote and defend the rights of many different marginalized and vulnerable groups. Our support has reached (W)HRDs who dedicate their lives to defend the rights of and to, among others, LGBTQ+, minorities, land and natural resources, indigenous peoples, journalists, workers, migrants, commercial sex workers, political activists, women and girls, etc.


HOW

Although there are many different methods to achieve positive and progressive results in this area, the majority of the projects we supported between 2016 and June 2018 use methods that focus on enhancing the security and protection of HRDs. Networking and advocacy are also important tools that can make significant differences in the outcomes of projects. NHRF sees that 55% of projects utilize these methods. In 2019 we have expanded our work to include psychosocial support to defenders.


PARTNERSHIP

We have learned that the NHRF can provide valuable support in terms of morale and solidarity and by helping to link our grantees work with HRDs to national and international networks. The NHRF strives to provide this meaningful support and work outside the parameters of the standard donor-grantee relationship. We want our grantees to succeed in their work because success translates to more protection and realization for the human rights of some of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable groups.