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UN General Assembly Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1998, Supplement No. 3 (E/1998/23), chap. II, sect.1
A.
Resolution 217 A (III).
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UNITED A
NATIONS
General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/RES/53/144
8 March 1999
Fifty-third session
Agenda item 110 (b)
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
[on the report of the Third Committee (A/53/625/Add.2)] 53/144. Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and
Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The General Assembly,
Reaffirmingthe importance of the observance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the
United Nations for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all
persons in all countries of the world,
Taking noteof Commission on Human Rights resolution1998/7 of 3 April 1998, in which the
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Commission approved the text of the draft declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups
and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Taking note alsoof Economic and Social Council resolution1998/33 of 30 July 1998, in which the
Council recommended the draft declaration to the General Assembly for adoption,
Consciousof the importance of the adoption of the draft declaration in the context of the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
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Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.3
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1.Adoptsthe Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of
Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, annexed
to the present resolution;
2.InvitesGovernments, agencies and organizations of the United Nations system and
intergovernmental andnon-governmental organizations to intensify their efforts to disseminate the
Declaration and to promoteuniversal respect and understanding thereof, and requests the Secretary-General
to include the text of the Declaration in the next edition ofHuman Rights: A Compilation of International
Instruments.
85th plenary meeting
9 December1998
ANNEX
Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote
and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The General Assembly,
Reaffirmingthe importance of the observance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the
United Nations for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all
persons in all countries of the world,
Reaffirmingalsothe importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International
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Covenants on Human Rights as basic elements of international efforts to promote universal respect for and 3
observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the importance of other human rights instruments
adopted within the United Nations system, as well as those at the regional level,
Stressingthat all members of the international community shall fulfil, jointly and separately, their
solemn obligation to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all
without distinction of any kind, including distinctions based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, and reaffirming the particular
importance of achieving international cooperation to fulfil this obligation according to the Charter,
Acknowledgingthe important role of international cooperation for, and the valuable work of individuals,
groups and associations in contributing to, the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and
fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals, including in relation to mass, flagrant or systematic
violations such as those resulting from apartheid, all forms of racial discrimination, colonialism, foreign
domination or occupation, aggression or threats to national sovereignty, national unity or territorial integrity
and from the refusal to recognize the right of peoples to self-determination and the right of every people to
exercise full sovereignty over its wealth and natural resources,

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Recognizingthe relationship between international peace and security and the enjoyment of human
rights and fundamental freedoms, and mindful that the absence of international peace and security does not
excuse non-compliance,
Reiteratingthat all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent
and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, without prejudice to
the implementation of each of those rights and freedoms,
Stressingthat the prime responsibility and duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental
freedoms lie with the State,
Recognizingthe right and the responsibility of individuals, groups and associations to promote respect
for and foster knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels,
Declares:
Article 1
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the
protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.
Article 2
1. Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and
fundamental freedoms,inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions
necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure
that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those
rights and freedoms in practice.
2. Each State shall adopt such legislative, administrative and other steps as may be necessary to ensure that
the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration are effectively guaranteed.
Article 3
Domestic law consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other international obligations of the
State in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms is the juridicalframework within which human
rights and fundamental freedoms should be implemented and enjoyed and within which all activities referred
to in the present Declaration for the promotion, protection and effective realization of those rights and
freedoms should be conducted.
Article 4
Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as impairing or contradicting the purposes and
principles of the Charter of the United Nations or as restricting or derogating from the provisions of the

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other 23
international instruments and commitments applicable in this field.
Article 5
For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the
right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels:
(a) To meet or assemble peacefully;
(b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;
(c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations.
Article 6
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others:
(a) To know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental
freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in
domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems;
(b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish,
impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental
freedoms;
(c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all
human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public
attention to those matters.
Article 7
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human
rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.
Article 8
1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a non-
discriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public
affairs.
2. This includes,inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental
bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving

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their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion,
protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Article 9
1. In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of
human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association
wit h ot hers , to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of theviolation of those
rights.
2. To this end, everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or
through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a
public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law
and to obtain from such an authority a decision, in accordance with law, providing redress, including any
compensation due, where there has been a violation of that person’s rights or freedoms, as well as
enforcement of the eventual decision and award, all without undue delay.
3. To the same end, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others,inter alia:
(a) To complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and governmental bodies with
regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to
competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities or any other competent authority
provided for by the legal system of the State, which should render their decision on the complaint without
undue delay;
(b) To attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with
national law and applicable international obligations and commitments;
(c) To offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and
assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
4. To the same end, and in accordance with applicable international instruments and procedures, everyone
has the right, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with
international bodies with general or special competence to receive and consider communications on matters of
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
5. The State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place
whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction.
Article 10
No one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and
fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing
to do so.
Article 11

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Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her
occupation or profession. Everyone who, as a result of his or her profession, can affect the human dignity,
human rights and fundamental freedoms of others should respect those rights and freedoms and comply with
relevant national and international standards of occupational and professional conduct or ethics.
Article 12
1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities
against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
2. The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of
everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto orde
jureadverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate
exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.
3. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected
effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts,
including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human
rights and fundamental freedoms.
Article 13
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize
resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms
through peaceful means, in accordance with article 3 of the present Declaration.
Article 14
1. The State has the responsibility to take legislative, judicial, administrative or other appropriate measures
to promote the understanding by all persons under its jurisdiction of their civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights.
2. Such measures shall include,inter alia:
(a) The publication and widespread availability of national laws and regulations and of applicable
basic international human rights instruments;
(b) Full and equal access to international documents in the field of human rights, including the periodic
reports by the State to the bodies established by the international human rights treaties to which it is a party,
as well as the summary records of discussions and the official reports of these bodies.
3. The State shall ensure and support, where appropriate, the creation and development of further
independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms

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in all territory under its jurisdiction, whether they be ombudsmen, human rights commissions or any other
form of national institution.
Article 15
The State has the responsibility to promote and facilitate the teaching of human rights and fundamental
freedoms at all levels of education and to ensure that all those responsible for training lawyers, law
enforcement officers, the personnel of the armed forces and public officials include appropriate elements of
human rights teaching in their training programme.
Article 16
Individuals, non-governmental organizations and relevant institutions have an important role to play in
contributing to making the public more aware of questions relating to all human rights and fundamental
freedoms through activities such as education, training and research in these areas to strengthen further,inter
alia, understanding, tolerance, peace and friendly relations among nations and among all racial and religious
groups, bearing in mind the various backgrounds of the societies and communities in which they carry out
their activities.
Article 17
In the exercise of the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration, everyone, acting
individually and in association with others, shall be subject only to such limitations as are in accordance with
applicable international obligations and are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due
recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and ofmeeting the just requirements of morality,
public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
Article 18
1. Everyone has duties towards and within the community, in which alone the free and full development of
his or her personality is possible.
2. Individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations have an important role to play and
a responsibility in safeguarding democracy, promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and
contributing to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes.
3. Individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations also have an important role and a
responsibility in contributing, as appropriate, to the promotion of the right of everyone to a social and
international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and other human rights instruments can be fully realized.
Article 19

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Nothing in the present Declaration shall be interpreted as implying for anyindividual, group or organ of
society or any State the right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of the
rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration.
Article 20
Nothing in the present Declaration shall be interpreted as permitting States to support and promote
activities of individuals, groups of individuals, institutions or non-governmental organizations contrary to the
provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

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