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9 Dec 2021

2021 International Human Rights Defenders Day

People's Climate March, NY 2014

9 December is International Human Rights Defenders Day, dedicated to human rights activists, land and environmental defenders, trade unionists, affected community members, and civil society organisations who are at the forefront of protecting rights and civic freedoms.

We come to this HRDs day with 3671 attacks recorded in our database of attacks against HRDs since 2015, at least 172 of which were Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) - criminal or civil lawsuits brought by companies to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics. At least 1 in 5 of those attacks were against women HRDs, despite their crucial work to hold business to account for human rights abuses.

This is a stark reminder of the need for urgent action by governments but also investors and companies to address this situation. As a first step, attacks on HRDs, including SLAPPs, related to business projects, need to be recognized as a salient issue by companies and legislative initiatives on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence, such as the one in the European Union, must include safeguards for human rights defenders.

See Human Rights Defenders Day events and statements from our partners, and explore our databases and reports below.

Explore our databases & reports

Database of Attacks on HRDs and SLAPPs

The 2020 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre's annual report collected 604 attacks on defenders working on business-related human rights issues, up from 572 attacks in 2019.

Strategic lawsuits against public participation

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are one tactic used by business actors to stop people raising concerns about their practices. SLAPPs can take the form of criminal or civil lawsuits brought to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics. This hub brings together the latest news and resources on SLAPPs, our database with examples of cases that bear the hallmarks of SLAPPs, and our related analyses.

Building capacities to help environmental human rights defenders in the Asia-Pacific region find and access support

This workshop aims to inform environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) about the different support mechanisms available in their region, and the ways in which these can be accessed, with particular attention to support for women and indigenous EHRDs.

Supporting Human Rights Defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Reality, Challenges, and Obligations

The UN Palestinian Rights Committee organized the Virtual Event on “Supporting Human Rights Defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” to shed light on the implications of the Israeli decision of 22 October 2021 to designate six Palestinian human rights and humanitarian NGOs as “terrorist organizations” and more broadly on the work of civil society organizations and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.