Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders advocate for the realization and protection of one or more human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as equal treatment, freedom of speech or access to education. Sometimes they address human rights violations against a specific group, for example children, women or LGBTIQ+ people. Many human rights defenders experience heavy resistance on their path to change. Because of their efforts, they face harassment, slander or even physical violence.

What we offer for human rights defenders at risk

What does Shelter City do?

Shelter City provides human rights defenders at risk a temporary place for three months where they are safe, can rely on solidarity and receive support tailored to their needs. We enable them to re-energize, engage with allies and develop their skills, knowledge and resilience.

Why does Shelter City support human rights defenders at risk?

Everyone should be able to safely contribute to a better world. When human rights defenders are nevertheless being threatened because of their efforts, they must be able to count on global solidarity. With our support, we aim to enable them to continue their work with renewed energy and in a more safe and effective way. Moreover, in our vision, supporting local change-makers is the most powerful and straight way to contribute to local change.



  • Safe space for three months
  • A space to rest and re-energize
  • Tailormade support
  • Security training
  • Wellbeing activities
  • Skills and knowledge development
  • The opportunity to network with allies

We are human rights defenders

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to human rights defenders. They encompass a range of spaces and advocate for different categories of human rights and causes, whether as an individual or collectively.

"I was feeling exhausted - the work was getting too much. My time in Shelter City was a relief to me and allowed me to come back fresh."

LGBTIQ+ activist from Uganda

"During Shelter City, I was treated with respect and dignity for the first time ever in my life. I learned what real human rights are, human rights as a lifestyle. I gained knowledge and power and am now passing it on."

Dalit rights activist from India

"I have gained new energy and am now better prepared. Shelter City has shown me that it is better to be silent for a while, than to have to keep silent forever."

Indigenous rights defender from Nicaragua

"I felt the need to rest. In our country, that is not an option. Participating in Tai Chi, the medical care and the support of the team has helped me a lot. For me, the work that Shelter City does is very valuable."

Environmental and indigenous rights defender from Honduras

"You gave me my motivation back, made me feel important again as a human rights defender."

Journalist from Honduras

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For human rights defenders

All the tools you need, in one place.

Our Stories

Yendri, mobilizing LGBTIQ+ communities in Venezuela
Yendri works on advancing the rights of Venezuelan LGBTIQ+ individuals. Find out more about his work through a podcast episode and documentary.
Shelter City Utrecht
Nataliia, a journalist in service of human rights
Nataliia documents human rights violations and the plight of minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community, migrants, and people living with HIV.
Shelter City Nijmegen
Angel Sulub, keeping Mayan values alive
Angel, an indigenous rights defender from Mexico, shares how he is working to keep Mayan values alive.
Shelter City Nijmegen
Juvie, using documentation as a tool against injustice
Juvie, a human rights defender from the Philippines, shares her journey of over a decade in grassroots activism and documenting human rights violations.
Shelter City Maastricht
Iván, reflecting on his journey as a human rights defender
Iván, former diplomat and Shelter City Amsterdam guest, shares his personal journey of becoming a human rights defender.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Iván, reflexionando sobre su trayectoria como defensor de los derechos humanos
Iván, antiguo diplomático y huésped de Shelter City Amsterdam, comparte su trayectoria personal como defensor de los derechos humanos.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Kiruba, fighting caste cruelties in India
Read Kiruba's story of challenging caste-based atrocities and discrimination in India.
Shelter City Nijmegen
Arsène, adding drops of justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Arsène shares his story as a human rights defender and lawyer in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Shelter City The Hague

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