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

Zabib, balancing motherhood and activism in South Sudan
"Being an activist shouldn’t stop women from having children, and having children shouldn’t stop women from their activist work. Let’s not give up."
Shelter City Rotterdam
Félix, shedding light on the harsh reality in Mexico, despite the dangers
Learn more about Félix, a Mexican photojournalist and a human rights defender.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Jhon León: defensores de los derechos humanos unidos por Shelter City para cambiar el mundo
Jhon es un defensor de derechos humanos colombiano. Aquí reflexiona sobre cómo Shelter City ha impactado, de manera positiva, su vida y trabajo.
Shelter City The Hague
Jhon León: Shelter City unites human rights defenders to change the world
John is a Colombian human rights defender. Here he reflects on how Shelter City has positively impacted his life and his work.
Shelter City The Hague
Raúl, creating safe spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community
Read about Mexican LGBTIQ+ defender Raul and his work to provide shelter to LGBTIQ+ persons.
Shelter City Utrecht
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

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and stay up to date with all news and events.