Accessibility statement

Human Rights Defenders

Human rights defenders risk their lives to fight injustice and strengthen democracy around the world.

The United Nations has declared that they deserve special protection because of their critical work in promoting and human rights. Yet, in many countries, they face imprisonment without charges, torture and threats of death.

Visiting human rights defenders form the core of the Centre's work in terms of providing training for defenders, conducting research and incorporating the visiting defenders as an integral part of the MA and LLM programmes.

Protective Fellowship Scheme

The Centre for Applied Human Rights hosts a Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders. Under the auspices of this Scheme, up to ten defenders per year are able to join the Centre for the purposes of research, networking and rest from a difficult working environment.


Since 2008 the Centre has hosted 84 visiting human rights defenders from across the world.

Their work covers civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights.

Champions of Change

The defenders' stories. "The Protective Fellowship Scheme offers a visionary approach to protecting and supporting individuals who risk their lives for the protection of human rights. At York, human rights defenders are given a warm welcome into a community of scholars and practitioners. Not only do they benefit from the space to rest and reflect on their work, but their unique contribution to research and teaching puts the University at the cutting-edge of global policy-making on human rights."

James Savage, Human Rights Defenders Programme Director, Amnesty International UK

Research on Human Rights Defenders

Through the HRD Hub, CAHR facilitates research on the rights of human rights defenders, the risks they face, their security management practices, their wellbeing, and the evolving international protection regime for their security and rights. See the HRD Hub website for our recent publications, working papers and more information. You can read more about CAHR's current research projects here

Karak Denyok Miakol

Feature story on the Protective Fellowship Scheme

The University Magazine Spring 2013 (PDF , 1,819kb) issue featured a story on the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders and told the story of woman human rights defender Karak Mayik Denyok from South Sudan, who stayed at CAHR in 2012-13.

Donating to the Protective Fellowship Scheme

Simply unforgettable. Since I started working in human rights, ten years ago, this is the first time that I feel calm and safe, knowing nobody is going to hurt me or persecute me. Thank you, all of you in the Centre, for this feeling.

Diana, Fellow
Spring 2010

The great value of the York CAHR Fellowship is that it prioritises human rights defenders working in the most difficult circumstances and gives them both a break and an opportunity for really practical learning. York shapes the Fellowship to meet the needs of the human rights defenders rather than selecting the human rights defenders who best fit academic criteria.

Andrew Anderson, Deputy Director, Front Line Defenders

By far the most important thing I got from CAHR was the support and encouragement from the staff that run the Centre. Not only when I was in England but even now in every single thing I do. This is a group of people who genuinely care about the individuals that pass through their doors and show a vested interest in what happens in the seed they helped water.

Sharon, Fellow
Spring 2008