WHRDIC History

WHRDIC became a formal coalition in 2008, following many years of growing global interest and concern about the situation of human rights defenders.

United Nations support for Human Rights Defenders

A decade earlier, in 1998, the United Nations had adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The UN supported this declaration in 2000 by establishing the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders, and appointing the first Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani.

In her first report to the UN (2002), the Special Rapporteur pointed to the particular risks facing women human rights defenders, and advocates emphasised the need to protect WHRDs when they held a consultation with the Special Rapporteur in Thailand in 2003.

The forming of WHRDIC

In 2005 many of the women human rights advocates and activists who went on to form WHRDIC came together for a powerful consultation in Sri Lanka. They created a women human rights defenders international committee, and this committee was formalised as WHRDIC in March 2008.

Since then, WHRDIC has contributed to some impressive successes: Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Ms. Margaret Sekaggya’s 2010 annual report focused on women human rights defenders and, in 2011, the Human Rights Council issued its first ever report on LGBT people.

These developments have led to systematic monitoring of women human rights defenders, and various mechanisms and policies protecting the rights of human rights defenders at the national, regional and international levels. Some of these pay special attention to gender issues and to the gender dimensions of the work of human rights defenders.

The fight continues

Despite this growing recognition of the vital role of WHRDs, and focus on protecting them, violence against WHRDs is on the increase due to militarisation, conflicts over resources and religious or cultural extremism.

In this environment WHRDIC will continue to fight harder than ever for visibility of women human rights defenders, recognition of their work, and protection of their rights.