Protecting our space: Human rights defender strategies to protect civil society space


To share experiences and strategies with human rights defenders working to safeguard civil society space, ISHR has released a new report showcasing examples of successful human rights change from around the world.

Protecting our space: Human rights defender strategies to protect civil society space is the latest report from ISHR following consultations with human rights defenders from around the world. By collating various first hand examples of targeted advocacy to defend or expand civil society space, the report examines the shared elements that contributed to success.

ISHR's Director, Phil Lynch, said the release of the report was timely given the global trend of governments increasingly restricting the work of human rights defenders and the spaces they operate in.

‘In every region we are witnessing regressive laws and legal measures being used to criminalise and restrict human rights defenders in their legitimate and crucial work. By reflecting on and sharing examples of successful advocacy, this publication aims to provide human rights defenders with ideas and strategies to help push back against laws and practices that infringe on their space, rights and liberties,’ said Mr Lynch.

The report lists several elements of successful strategies as well as lessons learnt from unsuccessful experiences. It was developed following a convening of human rights defenders who were in Geneva last year to undertake training with ISHR.

This publication was made possible with the kind assistance of Fund for Global Human Rights, the Open Society Foundations and the Sigrid Rausing Trust and is available for download here.


  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs