Human rights defenders


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Human Rights Defenders

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In this "Big Issue" area of our website you can find information on the links between the work of human rights & environmental defenders and business activities all over the world. It focuses on both positive and negative examples of the corporate dimension in the situations involving human rights defenders. The Resource Centre considers this subject a priority given, on the one hand, the critical importance of human rights defenders for ensuring corporate responsibility and accountability, and, on the other hand, the multiple challenges and risks they face while carrying out their work. 

At all levels, local, national and international, human rights & environmental defenders expose human rights abuses, assist victims and advise states and businesses on better ways to conduct their operations (including on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles). Therefore, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders acknowledges:

"the valuable work of individuals, groups and associations in contributing to, the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals"

However, to make such efforts possible, states need to provide human rights defenders with an environment that is safe and enabling. Companies, on the other hand, should consult them regarding the possible impacts business operations can have on human rights, and refrain from obstructing human rights defenders' work and from directly or indirectly abusing them.

We cover here a broad range of countries, types of abuses, issues, and relevant international standards and protection mechanisms. The information was obtained from a wide variety of sources, including UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, journalists, governments, NGOs, companies and human rights defenders themselves. It also features responses by companies to allegations of misconduct, sought and obtained by the Resource Centre. Following the UN OHCHR, we adopt a broad definition of “human rights defenders” considering as such “people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights” and who are best identified “through a description of their actions […] and of some of the contexts in which they work”. We also feature the particular challenges faced by women human rights defenders.




This “Big Issue” aims to offer the most relevant information on the positive and negative aspects of the relationship between business and human rights & environmental defenders. It aims to present a wide range of materials in a clear, structured manner to enable their efficient use. Overall, we hope to assist stakeholders and decision-makers in their work and research, with particular focus on:

  • human rights defenders: by providing information directly relevant to their work, featuring examples of similar efforts from across the globe and strengthening their own capacity by highlighting rights and protection mechanisms available to them;

  • NGOs: by disseminating their concerns, initiatives and research as well as providing information to contribute to their advocacy efforts;

  • companies: by providing positive and negative examples of the links between their activities and the work of human rights defenders, serving thus as a guidance tool for elaborating best practices and improving companies’ compliance with the Guiding Principles;

  • governments: by providing information to help them adequately protect human rights defenders from abuses by business and prevent state complicity in such instances;

  • media: by highlighting some of the less prominent, although equally critical, cases and issues they may want to investigate further;

  • investors and consumers: by making relevant information readily available to help them make conscious choices.

This Big Issue is not comprehensive. We welcome suggestions for additions at any time.


Perguntas frequentes

  • + Who is a Human Rights Defender?

    Following the UN OHCHR, we adopt a broad definition of “human rights defenders” considering as such “people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights” and who are best identified “through a description of their actions […] and of some of the contexts in which they work”.

  • + What is civil society space?

    In law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity (A/HRC/C/L.29).

  • + What is the role of civil society?

    "Effective avenues for civic participation contribute to societal cohesion and give people, including minorities and those at the margins of society, a way to make their voices heard. Civil society also plays a crucial role in facilitating participation in public life and can allow people to contribute to policy development, and even decision-making." (Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)

    "Civil society is the oxygen of democracy as it acts as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth. Civil society plays a critical role in keeping Government accountable, and helps represent the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups." (Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General)

  • + What is the business case for a strong civil society?

    "There is a persuasive business and economic case for a strong civil society. Indeed, business and civil society have a shared interest in an environment that respects the rights to freedom of expression and association, is pluralistic and non-discriminatory, upholds the rule of law and promotes transparency and access to information." (Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)

Receba RSS dos resultados

Histórias e componentes discutidos nessa respectiva área in this in-depth are

22 May 2018

Brasil: Covas são deixadas como ameaça de morte a casal de defensores de direitos humanos por madeireiros no Pará

Autor: Daniel Camargos, da Repórter Brasil/Racismo Ambiental

"Covas são deixadas como ameaça a jurados de morte por madeireiros no Pará", 22 de maio de 2018Osvalinda e Daniel Pereira são ameaçados, há mais de seis anos, por madeireiros e latifundiários da região de Trairão, município do Oeste do Pará. Após...

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17 April 2018

Brasil: 70 assassinatos em conflitos por terra, novo recorde e maior número desde 2003, afirma Comissão Pastoral da Terra que foi vítima de ataque hacker


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2 April 2018
+ Español - Ocultar

Autor: Prensa Libre (Guatemala)

“La radiografía de la ignominia”, 27 de marzo de 2018...

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29 March 2018

Brasil: Munduruku & ribeirinhos exilados de Mangabal se unem contra ameaças de morte por protegerem sua terra da extração ilegal de recursos naturais

Autor: Luísa Pontes Molina, Le Monde Diplomatique (Brazil)

"Aliança entre indígenas e ribeirinhos-Os exilados de Mangabal", 22 de março, 2018...

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13 March 2018

Brasil: Líder comunitário Paulo Sérgio Almeida Nascimento é assassinado; membros de sua associação relacionam morte com denúncias contra Hydro Alunorte por crimes ambientais, empresa nega

Autor: Rute Pina, Brasil de Fato (Brazil)

"Lideranças em Barcarena (PA) temem perseguições após 2º assassinato em 3 meses-O líder comunitário Paulo Sérgio Almeida Nascimento foi morto a tiros na madrugada desta segunda (12)"Após o segundo assassinato em três meses, lideranças comunitárias de...

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19 February 2018
+ Español - Ocultar

Autor: La Jornada (México)

“Expertos de ONU abogan contra deportación de defensora de migrantes en EU”, 14 de febrero de 2018...

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16 January 2018

Brasil: Repórter Brasil afirma que Ka’apor buscam autonomia para controlar seu território e cultura, expulsando madeireiros, protegendo a floresta e seu povo

Autor: Piero Locatelli, Repórter Brasil (Brazil)

"Indígenas do Maranhão buscam romper com o resto da sociedade-Conhecidos por expulsar madeireiros do seu território, os Ka'apor trabalham em um movimento maior, que busca a autonomia para controlar seu território", 9 de janeiro de 2018Em uma das...

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13 January 2018
+ Español - Ocultar

Autor: Proceso (México)

“El sexenio de Peña, el más letal para defensores del territorio y ambientalistas: ONG”, 9 de enero de 2018...

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27 December 2017

Brasil: Superior Tribunal de Justiça determina a prisão de oito policiais envolvidos na chacina de Pau d´Arco que matou brutalmente sem-terras

Autor: Alex Rodrigues, Agência Brasil (Brazil)

"STJ determina a prisão de oito policiais envolvidos na chacina de Pau d´Arco", 22 de dezembro de 2017A presidente do Superior Tribunal de Justiça..., ministra Laurita Vaz, acolheu...pedido do Ministério Público do Pará...e determinou que oito...

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14 November 2017

Brasil: Seminário reúne atingidos e autoridades para balanço de 2 anos da tragédia do Rio Doce & carta com denúncias é lançada


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