Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on December 10. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year on Human Rights Day, we want to recognize the brave work of human rights defenders.
The United States government defines human rights defenders as individuals, working alone or in groups, who peacefully advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Protecting and supporting human rights defenders is a U.S. foreign policy priority as they are integral to a vibrant civil society, economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and access to justice. Because human rights defenders seek to hold their governments accountable to protect universally recognized human rights, defenders are often harassed, detained, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for doing their work. The United States seeks to advance human rights by supporting civil society and human rights defenders to continue their work without hindrance or undue restriction, and free from retribution against them or their families.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to putting human rights and democratic principles at the center of our foreign policy. These Guidelines for U.S. Diplomatic Mission Support to Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders outline the U.S.’s commitment to supporting this vital work as part of the President’s strategic vision and U.S. foreign policy. For the United Nation’s perspective, please visit the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights fact sheet on Human Rights Defenders.