Human Rights Defenders

In international law, Human Rights Defenders are anyone who protects or promotes human rights— whether these are their own, or the rights of others.

Anyone can defend human rights, but often people don't think of children and young people as doing this.

Younger people can face barriers that older people might not when they defend human rights.

When children and young people defend human rights in Scotland, they aren’t likely to be shot or thrown in jail. But there are still real reasons they might be reluctant to be human rights defenders – like fear of bullying or of not being taken seriously by adults – and real things adult duty bearers can do to help support them.

So until 2020 we’ll be highlighting the inspiring things young human rights defenders already do in Scotland, and what people can do to help there be more rights defenders in the future.

Rights Defenders Action Group

A young human rights defender holding up a drawing reading 'Children and young people are safe, loved and able to flourish to their full potential.'

Our Rights Defenders group is made up of young people looking at what it means to be a young human rights defender in Scotland.

The group’s made up of people who were already acting as human rights defenders before we started working with them, and it exists to help make others aware of the barriers they’ve overcome and the risks they may have taken.

On 10 December 2018 – the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – they led a session at the Scottish Parliament on Challenging power: Children and young people as Human Rights Defenders in Scotland.

In November, the group helped us run our annual Human Rights Gathering, which this year was held in Inverness on the theme of children and young people as Human Rights Defenders.

They will also make specific recommendations to those who have a duty to promote and protect children and young people’s rights – such as the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament – in the form of a report which they will present to Parliament in 2019.

Rights Defenders website

The logo of the Rights Defenders website.

We worked with MCPs from Children’s Parliament and MSYPs from the Scottish Youth Parliament to create a Rights Defenders website highlighting the work children and young people do as human rights defenders in Scotland— and the steps taken by adults at national and international levels to support them when they do.

Rights Defenders has been created in partnership with:

Visit our Rights Defenders site.