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Effective Ways to Become a Human Rights Defender

There are many ways to get involved with human rights activism. These include studying human rights, gaining learnings from the experiences of advocates like Mohamed Soltan, volunteering, interning abroad, and creating a group. These steps will help you get started on the right foot regardless of how you become involved. However, before you can get started, you must decide if human rights activism is the right path for you.


Volunteering is an excellent start if you want to become a human rights defender. You can get hands-on experience and meet like-minded people while advancing a cause you believe in. For example, you can join local Amnesty campaign groups to spread the word about important issues in your community. Or, you can hold public events and raise funds for campaigns in your region. In any case, volunteer work is a great way to get started on your career as a human rights defender.

Often, human rights defenders are considered to be in the wrong and are accused of not being “real” human rights defenders. Many human rights defenders, who support one side of an argument, are branded as supporters of the political party or the armed opposition group they are defending. To be accepted as a human rights defender, however, you must stand for your principles and your right to protect your rights.

Getting a Degree

Getting a degree is essential if you’re interested in a career as a human rights defender. First, you’ll need to complete a degree or diploma to qualify. Most undergrad courses will accept students with 10+2 grades of at least 50%. However, if you want to pursue a Masters’s degree, you’ll need a background in humanities or sociology.

In any case, get involved with a human rights organization to broaden your perspective and gain knowledge. The sooner you get involved in human rights, the better position you’ll be in for your dream job.

Interning Abroad

HRDs are advocates for any human right. Their actions promote political, economic, social, and cultural rights. HRDs have sought refuge in refugee camps in several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia, and Venezuela. The US Department of State assists these defenders with acquiring international protection for their activities. This opportunity benefits students and professionals interested in the field of human rights.

HRDs may be forced to leave their home countries to seek refuge in other countries. In these cases, the HRDs may work as spokespeople for their home organizations or monitor human rights cases in the host country. Some have even expressed a desire to return to their home country to continue their human rights work. However, regardless of origin, HRDs abroad often face numerous challenges.

Creating a Group

To become a human rights defender, you can find a human rights issue in your area, learn about the problem, and create a campaign for it. You can also research online, including watching documentaries from the National Film Board and reading articles about human rights. You can even create a human rights collage to display in your school hallways. After identifying the issue, you can begin working with a local organization or person involved in the area.

Developing a group is not as difficult as it may seem. If you’re planning to work for a human rights organization, you must understand that the role of human rights defenders is complex and often requires a lot of preparation and research. To be successful, you must be committed and well-organized. Developing a team with a shared goal will help you reach your objectives.

Taking Action

Taking action when a human rights holder faces significant risk can have several implications. Human rights missions need to assess the context in which HRDs operate. These issues and risks are often symbolic of specific practices or are systemic. Assignments should also evaluate the scale of reported threats and the level of impunity. They should also identify other actors working to protect HRDs, including regional and international organizations, national institutions, human rights commissions, academics, and the private sector.

New legislation may be in place to restrict the fundamental freedoms of HRDs. Some may be targeted for specific threats or violence. Others may disappear after testifying against authorities or undergoing legal proceedings. Human rights defenders may be targeted in public demonstrations. Despite the risks, HRDs can benefit from general recognition to support their efforts. It also provides credibility to their work. It’s crucial for HRDs who disinformation campaigns may target.