Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and is an open, hospitable, and international city, where human rights play an important role. In 2012, Navanethem Pillay, the then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called Utrecht ‘the first human rights city of the Netherlands’. Together with its partners, Shelter City Utrecht hosts three human rights defenders annually.

Our support

Rest and re-energize

In Shelter City Utrecht, human rights defenders can catch their breath while taking a break from the threats and hardships that come with their work. During their stay, they can recharge and rejuvenate while being surrounded by the openness and comfort that makes Utrecht a human rights city.

Tailored support

During their stay in Shelter City Utrecht, human rights defenders are offered physical and physiological support from trained professionals to strengthen their work and continue more effectively and sustainably. Together with our partners, we ensure that defenders receive support tailored to their needs.

Engage with local allies

We support human rights defenders who wish to raise awareness for their cause by organising, for example, a lecture, a film screening or a human rights café. This allows defenders to share their experiences with a wider international audience and increase awareness of the human rights situation in their country.

Contact us


Our team

Inez de Boer
Inez de Boer

Shelter City Utrecht Coordinator, Peace Brigades International

Lizzy van Dijk
Lizzy van Dijk

Shelter City Utrecht programme officer, Peace Brigades International

Wien de Smet
Wien de Smet

Shelter City Utrecht programme officer, Municipality of Utrecht

Our stories

Wiecza, fighting for a better future for Venezuela
Learn more about Wiecza, a Venezuelan lawyer and human rights defender.
Shelter City Eindhoven
Numan, fighting for LGBTIQ+ rights in Malaysia
Learn more about Numan and his work to support the LGBTIQ+ community in Malaysia.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Manjula Pradeep, the inspiring activist behind Shelter City
Manjula Pradeep is an Indian human rights defenders and the inspiration behind Shelter City.
Shelter City Europe
Meet Caroline Rucah, Kenyan LGBTIQ+ rights defender
Watch a short documentary and learn more about Caroline Rucah, LGBTIQ+ rights defenders from Kenya.
Shelter City Utrecht
Asha’s photo hangs proudly on my wall
Nikki supports human rights defenders that stay in Shelter City Rotterdam. According to Nikki, being a part of Shelter City has changed her life.
Shelter City Rotterdam
Louisa and Asha: defending human rights in Nigeria and India during the COVID-19 pandemic
Louisa and Asha are two human rights defenders and former Shelter City guests who shared with us how their work has changed during the pandemic.
Shelter City Rotterdam
Mohammed Azaiza shares his experience of being stuck in Gaza while dreaming of Amsterdam
Mohammed Azaiza is a human rights defender from Gaza who was unable to relocate to Shelter City.
Shelter City Amsterdam
How William’s perseverance left a mark on numerous residents of Nijmegen
Yara was part of the Shelter City Nijmegen team for two years. During her time, she met inspiring human rights defenders such as William from Uganda.
Shelter City Nijmegen

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