Supporting human rights defenders

The Netherlands supports human rights defenders, so that they can do their work effectively and safely.

Why does the Netherlands support human rights defenders?

Human rights defenders are individuals or organisations that seek to protect human rights. Through their work they promote and defend globally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms by peaceful means. Human rights defenders often work in difficult circumstances. They often have to contend serious threats and violence. The Dutch government supports human rights defenders so they can do their work effectively and safely.

How does the Netherlands help human rights defenders?

The Netherlands helps human rights defenders in a number of ways:

  • Diplomatic efforts to help human rights defenders
    The Netherlands follows the European Union’s guidelines on human rights defenders. The guidelines aim to improve the support and protection given to human rights defenders in non-EU countries. The Dutch embassies work with the embassies of other EU member states and of the EU itself to help human rights defenders. Read more about the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

  • Human Rights Fund
    Through the Human Rights Fund the Netherlands provides financial support for human rights defenders and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that promote human rights worldwide. They can use the money for training, for instance to learn how to protect data on their computers and smartphones, or to participate successfully in United Nations Human Rights Council meetings.
  • Shelter City
    The Netherlands supports Shelter City. Human rights defenders who are under threat in their own country can stay in the Netherlands for 3 months. This allows them to continue their work in a safe and restful setting. It also gives them an opportunity to expand their network of civil society organisations and political contacts, and take training courses to improve their skills. For example, they can take English lessons or learn how to persuade more people that human rights are important. 
  • Human Rights Tulip
    Each year, the Dutch government awards the Human Rights Tulip to a person or organisation that promotes human rights worldwide in innovative ways. The winner receives €75,000 to fund a new project and €25,000 to spend on training. This money allows them to continue their work and help more people. The prize money comes from the Human Rights Fund.