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Who is a human rights defender?

A human rights defender can be anyone who, alone or with others, acts to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner. It can be a community leader, a trade unionist, a journalist or yourself! 

Defenders can be of any gender, age, from any part of the world and from all sorts of professional and personal backgrounds. 

Women human rights defenders, are defined by OHCHR as “all women and girls working on any human rights issue and people of all genders who work to promote rights and rights related to gender equality”.

Environmental human rights defenders are defined by the UN as “individuals and groups who, in their personal or professional capacity and in a peaceful manner, strive to protect and promote human rights relating to the environment, including water, air, land, flora and fauna”. 

Indigenous human rights defenders are indigenous individuals, groups and organisations working to assert and defend human rights, including the rights of Indigenous peoples. For more information please see here.

LGBTI human rights defenders are people who act to promote or protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

What is a business-related human rights abuse?

Business-related human rights abuses are human rights harms that are committed by a state or a business through acts or omissions in the context of business activities. Business activities include everything that a business does in the course of fulfilling its objectives, decisions, purpose or strategy.

What is an effective remedy?

A remedy is the substantive outcome that can make good a human rights abuse. It can take different forms such as apologies, restitution or rehabilitation, for example. For a remedy to be effective it needs to be:

  • Legitimate: should be trusted and accountable for the fair conduct of processes.
  • Accessible: should be known to all stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and providing adequate assistance for those who may face particular barriers to access.
  • Predictable: should provide clear information on the procedure, indicative timeframes, expected outcomes and monitoring mechanisms for implementation.
  • Equitable: the victims should have reasonable access to sources of information, advice and expertise necessary to engage in a grievance process on fair, informed and respectful terms.
  • Transparent: keeping parties to a grievance informed about its progress, and providing sufficient information about the mechanism’s performance to build confidence in its effectiveness and meet any public interest at stake.
  • Rights-compatible: ensuring that outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognised human rights.
  • A source of continuous learning: should be used to identify lessons for improving the mechanism and preventing future grievances and harms.
  • Based on engagement and dialogue: the company should consult the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended on their design and performance, and focus on dialogue as the means to address and resolve grievances.