What is a human rights defender?
This is a term which is used to describe people who as individuals, or collectively act to promote and protect human rights as described in The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Visit http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/docs/declaration/declaration.pdf.
Human rights defenders from the Pacific face a number of challenges including access to information and support, isolation and the provision of "safe spaces" to discuss human rights issues.
Other challenges include the lack of support at the national level, the absence of both national and regional human rights mechanisms as well as changes in donor funding and policies.
In 2010, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) in partnership with the Pacific Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community saw the need to bring together human rights defenders from around the Pacific region for the purpose of sharing, learning as well as the opportunity to build capacity in accessing international human rights mechanisms.
Jointly, the three groups developed The Pacific Regional Consultation and Training for Human Rights Defenders which was held in Suva, Fiji from the 6 – 10 September.
Also attending this Forum was the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya.
A key outcome of the consultation was the set-up of a Regional Human Rights Defenders Network.
Participants felt the need for a regional network which would provide them with information on human rights defenders, human rights issues, training and funding opportunities, regional sharing of information as well as providing a regional platform to lobby on human rights issues.
Currently, some regional NGO umbrellas do exist, however participants felt that they could not rely on those for human rights information, or for sharing information.
It was decided that SPC RRRT would be a temporary secretariat which could start this network until such a time when it could be passed onto a regional human rights NGO.
If you are an NGO in the Pacific and interested to join this network, please complete the form below.
Once we receive your information, we will add you on to the list and we will create a web based portal for sharing information. Check out this space for further updates soon.
For more information please contact [email protected]