Ireland | Strong international leadership for the protection of human rights defenders should be matched at home


While commending Ireland in a statement to the Human Rights Council for its strong international leadership for the protection of defenders, ISHR has highlighted ways in which Ireland can improve the protection of defenders back home.

In a statement to the Human Rights Council's 33rd session today, ISHR welcomed Ireland’s significant support for, and continued leadership on, protecting human rights defenders, expanding civil society space and preventing and ensuring accountability for reprisals at the international level.

ISHR commended Ireland for its efforts to strengthen the Human Rights Council, and encouraged it to continue such efforts, building on its joint call last June for mechanisms to ensure the Council responds more rapidly and effectively to human rights emergencies and crises.

ISHR’s statement also welcomed Ireland’s Working Outline of its National Plan on Business and Human Rights, which reflected calls in ISHR’s submission on Ireland’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Ireland to:

  • recognise the vital role of civil society and defenders in assessing the impact of business activities on human rights.
  • reiterate Ireland’s duty to ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations and defenders working in relation to business and human rights; and
  • articulate an obligation on business to respect civil society and defenders in their work, including by not interfering directly or indirectly with defenders in the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly or protest.

‘We urge Ireland to remain committed to this position in the development of its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and to give it effect through concrete policies and measures’ said Tess McEvoy, ISHR Programme Coordinator and Legal Counsel.  

However, the statement also identified areas for improvement.

‘While we commend Ireland on its international leadership on defenders, on a national level we are concerned about the challenges faced by human rights defenders working on sexual and reproductive rights. In particular the stigmatisation of those advocating for women’s reproductive rights. We call on Ireland to ensure defenders are safe from stigmatisation of any kind, including from non-State actors,’ said McEvoy.

A copy of full statement is available here.


  • Europe
  • Human rights defenders
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Ireland