Links and further information
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some useful places to find out more about human rights issues and gain advice and support for your case or issue. Please note that this list is not an endorsement of any of the organisations included.
For news and analysis on international human rights affairs:
Human Rights Watch protect human rights around the world through fact-finding, impartial reporting, use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups. Their annual ‘World Reports’ provide summaries of the human rights situations in a range of countries worldwide.
Amnesty International is a global movement of human rights campaigners. It investigates and exposes abuses and educates and mobilises the public on human rights issues. As a membership organisation, it encourages members of the public to engage in targeted human rights campaigns. If you are based in the UK, please see the Amnesty International UK’s website.
This organisation is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. They produce an annual ‘Freedom in the World’ report providing country-by-country analysis of global political rights and civil liberties.
Chatham House is an independent policy institute based in London. It carries out independent and rigorous analysis of global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities. See the human rights section of their website.
These annual reports cover the human rights conditions in countries and regions outside the USA, submitted by the United States Department of State to the United States Congress. The reports cover internationally recognised civil, political and labour rights.
These are UK Government reports on the human rights situations in countries around the world. They are produced annually with additional quarterly updates. Note in particular the countries designated by the FCO as ‘Countries of Concern’.
These detailed reports on countries around the world cover the human rights concerns pertinent to each country. The reports are used by UK Visas and Immigration officials to make decisions on asylum and human rights applications.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights publishes an extensive range of publications on a variety of human rights topics.
An international organisation working specifically on promoting and defending freedom of expression.
A non-profit, independent organisation promoting press freedom worldwide through research and advocacy.
MRG campaigns worldwide on the rights of minority and indigenous peoples. It publishes useful resources on the human rights situations of specific minority groups.
PositiveNegatives is an NGO producing powerful literary comics about contemporary social and human rights issues, including conflict, migration and asylum for diverse audiences. PositiveNegatives combines ethnographic research with illustration and photography, adapting personal testimonies into art, advocacy and educational materials. You can see an example of their work here.
Information for human rights defenders:
Based in Ireland, Front Line Defenders protect human rights defenders at risk, including through the provision of grants, training, advocacy and more. Visit the ‘For Defenders’ section of their website for more information and resources. Their 24 hour emergency hotline number is +353 (0) 1 21 00 489.
See above. They also provide resources for human rights defenders, which can be found here.
This organisation provides tools and strategies to people who defend human rights and is present in a range of countries around the world.
PBI provides protection, support and recognition to local human rights defenders who work in areas of repression and conflict and request their support. They work in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Kenya and Nepal.
The CPJ’s Journalists Assistance Program provides direct assistance to journalists at risk and their families. To request assistance as a journalist at risk, see the relevant page on their website.
They also have a comprehensive ‘Journalist Security Guide’, providing advice for journalists working in difficult and dangerous situations.
CARA’s main work is to provide grants, advice, fellowships and training to at-risk academics who are forced to take refuge in the UK. It also has a fellowship programme which is open to UK and overseas applicants and supports academics directly in Iraq, Syria and Zimbabwe.
UK-based support and advice for victims of human rights abuses:
Freedom from Torture works with survivors of torture in various centres around the UK.
REDRESS is a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation and bring perpetrators to justice. If you or a family member has been tortured, they may be able to offer help and support.
Reprieve is an organisation of human rights defenders which offers free legal and investigative support to people facing execution and those victimised by states’ abusive counter-terrorism policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.
The only agency in the UK making grants specifically to assist prisoners of conscience, with grant recipients including political prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics, from countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, and Iran.
International human rights organisations:
Human rights are one of the core components of the UN mandate and fall under the responsibility of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Their website is a very detailed resource of information.
A very detailed resource providing extensive information on the UN human rights programme is “Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society”
There are various ways in which individuals and civil society groups can advocate their case or cause at the United Nations. The 3 main mechanisms for this purpose are listed here.
This is a confidential procedure to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested human rights violations, as part of the intergovernmental Human Rights Council. Communications can be submitted by individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations. Please see the website for advice on what constitutes an admissible communication and how to submit a complaint.
Individual complaints or communications can also be submitted though some of the international human rights treaty bodies, which are committees of experts designed to monitor the implementation of treaties. Currently, seven of the human rights treaty bodies (CCPR, CERD, CAT, CEDAW, CRPD, CED and CESCR) may, under certain conditions, receive and consider individual complaints or communications from individuals. Please see the website for more information.
These mechanisms can intervene directly with governments on allegations of violations of human rights that fall under the area of their mandate by sending letters of appeal or other communications to countries. These communications may deal with individual cases, general trends of violations, cases affecting particular groups or the content of legislation, policy or practice not considered to be fully compatible with international human rights standards. Please see the website for more information on how to submit information to the special procedures.
This an international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights based in Strasbourg, France. Applications can be made to the court by individuals, groups of individuals or contracting states. Potential applicants should read the rules and proceedings.
Human rights are fundamental to the EU’s aims and principles and it works to promote and defend them both within the EU and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries. Whilst there is no direct complaint mechanism, the EU does work actively with NGOs and civil society.
This body is an organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS) whose mission is to protect and promote human rights in these countries. The body contains an individual petition mechanism which enables individuals or groups to receive help from the Commission on human rights situations. Please see this section of their website for more information.
This court is the regional court for the Americas designed to interpret the American Convention on Human Rights and is based in San José, Costa Rica. Cases can be referred to the court by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights or by state parties. Individuals are not able to make direct applications to the court.
The ACHPR is a body of the African Union, tasked with protecting and promoting human rights and collective (peoples’) rights on the African continent. The complaints mechanism is open to all those alleging that a State party has violated one or more of the rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Please see the relevant section of their website for more information.
This is the regional court for African states designed to interpret the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It is based in Arusha, Tanzania. As with the American system, individuals are not able to make direct applications to the court.
This is the international organisation of parliaments, acting as the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and promotion of peace. One of its core activities is to contribute to the defence and promotion of human rights.
In particular, it has a Committee for the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which examines cases of allegations of human rights abuses against parliamentarians.
Organisations working on the human rights situations of specific countries:
Myanmar/Burma: Burma Campaign UK
Cambodia: Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR)
Saudi Arabia: Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia