Manon, training human rights defenders to also care for themselves

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Building resilience of human rights defenders

Throughout the years of working with human rights defenders, we have seen the growing need to provide them with more than temporary relocation and the chance to rest and re-energise. The increasingly shrinking space for civil society means that the environments that human rights defenders work in have become more challenging. Mass surveillance and stricter laws on civil society are all threats to the vital work and livelihood of a human rights defender.

For human rights defenders and civil society to be able to continue their work safely and effectively, building resilience to these external pressures is key. It allows a human rights defender and their organisation to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to changes and disruptions so that they can survive and thrive. That is why we offer human rights defenders at risk the opportunity to build long term resilience.

1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2. the ability to spring back into shape; elasticity

Without human rights defenders, there are no human rights.

How do we support resilient defenders?

With a holistic security curriculum, we offer human rights defenders digital and physical security training, wellbeing and self-care training, empowerment training, including legal, investigative, organizational and advocacy tools, and long-term support for when they return home.

Because each environment is different, we offer tailored training to human rights defenders and organisations based on their needs and requirements. With experienced security trainers and the most up-to-date resources, we hope to support more resilient defenders and contribute to active civil societies worldwide.

Aside from giving training, we put together resources for human rights defenders covering topics including well-being and digital security and the latest developments in the world for human rights defenders.

Who can benefit from the Resilience Initiative?

The resilience training is open to:

  • Human rights defenders enrolled in the Shelter City programme;
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on human rights and social justice willing to receive the training for their own staff or for human rights defenders they can sponsor. NGOs willing to receive the training or sponsor human rights defenders can contact us through training[at]

The Resilience Initiative evolved from The Hague Training Course (THTC), which addressed to the many human rights defenders in need of deepening their knowledge, their skills and their international network to continue their work. Watch the documentary about the June 2015 edition of THTC.