Workshop EU - human rights defenders

How to organize a workshop for better implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

Interested? Download the manual here


In 2004, the European Union issued an important document: the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. These guidelines provide practical steps for the EU and its members states to help improve the protection and support of human rights defenders (HRDs) in third countries.

In order to do this effectively, it is crucial that diplomats consult regularly with local human rights defenders. This is the aim of the successful EU – Human Rights Defenders Workshop, a format developed by Amnesty International.

Some examples of results from previous workshops:

  • The outcomes were used as key inputs for the EU’s Country Human Rights Strategy;
  • After the workshop, HRDs’ concerns were better represented on the EU agenda in Brussels;
  • As a result of workshop recommendations and Amnesty International’s advocacy, EU missions attended more trials involving HRDs;
  • Increased number of public statements concerning HRD cases.

Set-up of the workshop

The workshop takes place over two days.

  • On the first day, a diverse group of up to 20 human rights defenders discuss and analyze a range of topics on which they could use diplomatic support. At the end, they identify key threats to their work and formulate recommendations to the diplomats.
  • On the second day, the diplomats join the group. They hear the HRDs’ assessment of the situation and their recommendations. They discuss these in smaller groups.

The meeting will help diplomats develop strategies based on first-hand assessments of the needs, threats and obstacles on the ground. At the same time, HRDs get a realistic picture of what diplomatic action can mean for them – and what its limitations are.

Strengths of the workshop

  • HRDs themselves assess their situation, form consensus on threats, obstacles and opportunities, and identify recommendations for diplomatic action.
  • These recommendations are detailed and highly credible, being produced by the HRDs themselves.
  • Diplomats become better informed about the human rights and HRDs’ situation.
  • HRDs and diplomats get a realistic picture of each other’s needs and obstacles and what they can expect from each other.
  • The face-to-face contact contributes to sustainable contacts between HRDs and diplomats.
  • Diplomats have the opportunity, in one setting, to meet HRDs from various parts of the country working on a diversity of themes.

The manual

How to organise your own EU – Human Rights Defenders Workshop is described in a practical manual to be downloaded here. It contains all the necessary steps to design, prepare and carry-out the workshop, and suggestions for follow-up actions to ensure sustainable impact. It also includes a model workshop programme, a timeline and a sample budget.

For more information, please contact Amnesty International the Netherlands:

Download the manual here