In many countries, people are at risk because they defend human rights. These human rights defenders need access to effective security and protection methods. Protection International goes where defenders need such support.

Protection International researches protection strategies and solutions for human rights defenders. We then describe and translate them, and transform them into useful knowledge, tools, and methods. We present the results of our work to people that stand up for human rights and want to improve their protection. We also support these human rights defenders in obtaining protection from the state authorities that are obliged to provide it. We support defenders that make international organisations and countries fulfil their commitment to protect them.

Protection International goes where many others do not: to rural areas in Thailand where villagers defend their rights to land and health against polluting companies, to working-class neighbourhoods in Guatemala City where young people struggle to stay out of the hands of drug cartels, and to those parts of Eastern Congo where defenders document human rights violations by roaming militia.

Coaching, training and advice

Human rights defenders and organisations that seek to improve their protection are being offered a process of coaching, training and advice. The defender can improve its ability to assess the needs of his organization in terms of security. He also obtains an ongoing support for the use of specific protection methods, measures and topics. An example of a method is the tactic of organising the community to collectively respond to [...]

Early warning systems and protection networks

Early Warning Systems (EWAS) help human rights defenders and organisations to obtain timely protection from authorities. Protection International has researched Early Warning Systems and offers assistance in the set-up and design of the protection response that the early warning is meant to trigger.   Early Warning Systems: triggering timely protective action from authorities An Early Warning System is a method for people and institutions to work together, so that they [...]

Advocating for protection

State authorities have the primary responsibility to protect human rights defenders. Unfortunately, as impunity for violations against defenders and increasing criminalisation of  their activities show, a huge pressure on States is needed for the respect of their obligations to protect. Protection International advocacy officers’ main role is, in collaboration with other local and international NGOs, to remind State institutions and inter-governmental organizations of their responsibilities in the protection of human [...]

Risk assessment and advice

Human rights defenders and organisations do seek our support at a point where threats are active. A government representative may have accused them on the radio for ‘betraying their country’ or for ‘causing unrest’ after reporting human rights violations. A member of a civil society organization may have received an anonymous phone call from a man saying ‘We will come to get you if you don’t stop talking’. Protection International [...]

Protection Desks

Numerous countries find themselves in situations where many human rights defenders are threatened and the number of threats remains high for years and years. Such situations call for long term, in-country protection support. Protection International assists human rights movements in such countries by setting up Protection Desks. Protection Desks act as local hub for protection expertise and capacity. Protection Desks offer accessible expertise in a particular country or region. Their [...]


The protection of defenders is a dynamic field in constant evolution, and there is a clear need to understand better and systematizing what works in protection of defenders (and for whom and under which circumstances). The risks faced by women defenders or by defenders working in rural areas are very different from the risks faced by defenders in urban environments; similarly, the tactics defenders apply for their own protection are [...]