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Everyone has the right to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms without fear of threats or attack.
Protection International is an international NGO who supports human rights defenders at risk through comprehensive protection programmes. Our programmes empower defenders build their capacities in order to manage their protection effectively, to allow those that protect them fulfil their obligations, and to convince other individuals and institutions with a stake in the protection of human rights defenders to maximise their positive contribution.
Since 2007, Protection International teams have strived to propose a long-term accompaniment to human right defenders at risk. Our objective is to empower human rights defenders in ensuring their own security, rather than fostering a reliance on external actors and emergency interventions.
Working in partnership with local civil society groups through the establishment of Protection Desks in 10 countries to date, we have supported individuals, organisations, networks, and communities facing threats, judicial harassment, stigmatisation, or other forms of repression. The Protection Desk is a concept developed by Protection lnternational to frame our strategic collaboration with national or local organisations and our in-country role in promoting the Right to Defend Human Rights of defenders at risk. PI's participatory model of intervention has and continues to evolve. As capacities on the ground transfer and strengthen over time, with partners slowly gaining greater agency in establishing sustainable work with sufficient resources, PI has exited partnerships where there is no detrimental effect on W/HRDs and their communities.
Next to its direct work with defenders, PI has sought to contribute to the advancement of legal and policy avenues for the protection of W/HRDs. Since the publication of our seminal handbook Protection of human rights defenders: Best practices and lessons learnt (2011), we have witnessed the fast evolution of public debate regarding national public
policies for W/HRD protection: initially only a handful of Latin American governments were addressing systematic attacks against HRDs through national protection mechanisms; while civil society organisations approached the issue with significant mistrust and scepticism. In recent years, the protection of W/HRDs has become mainstream, with the adoption of national laws and the emergence of draft bills in several countries of Latin America and Africa, with a wide permeation of discussions on W/HRD protection in countries within Europe as well as Central and South-East Asia.
Our approach: PI's DNA is in essence grass-roots, as our focus has always been to act from the territories' perspective and for the defenders' benefit, from the local to the international level, through a bottom-up approach. This grass-roots approach aims to increase agency for the most vulnerable defenders while contributing to the creation of safe spaces for W/HRDs to continue working on the ground.
PI's approach of a comprehensive, collective and long-term accompaniment is increasingly gaining traction among protection actors and is recognised as an essential element to foster resilience, limiting the need for emergency interventions over time. Our approach to protection is based on a comprehensive understanding of security and protection, which encompasses physical and digital security, but also issues related to community resilience, protection of the territory/space in which W/HRDs operate and of their cultural and spiritual identities ....