Law Society calls on government to protect human rights defenders

The Law Society of England and Wales alongside Amnesty International, Fund for Global Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Peace Bridges International and 45 international and grassroots civil society organisations have called on the UK government to support and protect civil society and human rights defenders.

“Human rights defenders* act to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner.

"They are an integral part of upholding the rights contained within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights** and are agents of change who can ensure the sustainable impact of a range of UK foreign policy and development priorities,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“Combatting the climate crisis, workers’ rights and the rule of law cannot be upheld without human rights lawyers, environmental activists and trade unions.

“We urge the government to develop a robust strategy to counter closing civic space and support human rights defenders, which would contribute to the UK’s credibility and leadership internationally, while improving the impact and value for money of foreign policy initiatives.”

Notes to editors

*Human rights defenders also seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights, as well as the promotion, protection and realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

Find out more about human rights defenders

**The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all people and all nations. It sets out for fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

Find out more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The civic space is the environment that enables civil society to play a role in the political, economic and social life of our societies. In particular, the civic space allows individuals and groups to contribute to policy-making that affects their lives.

Find out more about protecting and expanding civic space

Download the full briefing (PDF 541 KB)

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