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

Kelly Bezema
Kelly Bezema

Shelter City Utrecht programme officer, Municipality of Utrecht

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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