A Research Agenda for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Alice M. Nah, Karen Bennett, Danna Ingleton, James Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights Practice is dedicated to critical reflection on the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs). In this article we consider existing research and knowledge about the protection of HRDs, highlight the contributions of the policy and practice notes in this collection, and put forward current issues and questions on the protection of HRDs for further exploration. Specifically, we highlight eight areas for research: the definition and use of the term ‘human rights defender’; perceptions of risk, security and protection; culture, gender and diversity (with particular emphasis on protecting women human rights defenders); the use of legal and administrative mechanisms for repression; the effectiveness of protection mechanisms; strategies and tactics for protection; fostering enabling environments for the defence of human rights; and the impact of technology and digital security on HRDs. In the last section of this article, we highlight the importance of more collaboration between academics, practitioners and HRDs for the effective evolution of protection mechanisms and practices. We reflect on the merits and challenges of collaborative applied research, suggesting how this can be done effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-420
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Human Rights Practice
Issue number3
Early online date4 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2013


  • definition
  • gender
  • human rights defenders
  • protection
  • risk
  • security

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