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HRC31 Side Event – Protection Needs of Human Rights Defenders Working on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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Title: Protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights – challenges and good practice

Date/Time: Monday, 7 March 2016 • 13:30-15:00

Venue: Room 18 (XVIII), Palais des Nations, Geneva

Human rights defenders play a critical role in securing the right to housing, pushing for adequate health care and ensuring community voices are heard in major development projects.

Despite this, the current and previous Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders have emphasised the specific risks that defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights face. Whether they are activists fighting corruption or promoting transparency, working on land and environment rights, or defending their right to housing, ESC-rights defenders are among the most isolated and stigmatised defenders.

This high-level side event will shed light on the risks faced by economic, social and cultural rights defenders, and draw on the report of the Special Rapporteur presented to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council to present good practices in furthering their protection.


  • Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Navi Pillay, former High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Allo Awol, human rights defender from Ethiopia (more at
  • Arutchelvan Subramaniams aka @Arul, human rights defender from Malaysia (see profile Iniyan sent)
  • Pedro Tzicá, human rights defender from Guatemala.

This interactive panel will be moderated by Ms Catarina de Albuquerque, Executive Chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Interpretation in English and Spanish will be provided.

The side event is co-hosted by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), FORUM-ASIA, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, Protection International, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Peace Brigades International, The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The event will be webcast live at