The Centre for Applied Human Rights has run the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk since 2008. Since its inception, the Centre has welcomed almost 100 defenders to the scheme from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Chad, China, Colombia, DRC, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
One of the most important elements in bringing about improvements in human rights at a local level is the presence of active human rights defenders. They often find themselves working in hostile environments and without adequate training and support. Over time, the cumulative challenges of working in such an environment can have a negative impact on the individuals concerned, on their contribution to human rights work and on the human rights movements they are a part of.
The Centre for Applied Human Rights has created an innovative response to this challenge through its Protective Fellowships. Human rights defenders are invited to come to York for periods ranging from three to six months. During this time they benefit both from time away from a difficult environment, and from educational resources designed to increase their effectiveness and their ability to influence policy and practice when they return home. We believe that this Scheme makes a unique contribution in enhancing the sustainability of social activism.
The benefits are three-fold:
In 2021 we are running in hybrid form two Fellowship Schemes:
The Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk is aimed at strengthening the capacity of human rights defenders at risk. It is open to all human rights defenders who work in difficult environments or who are directly at risk.
The Scheme offers ordinarily a sixth-month Fellowship at the University of York, where Fellows engage in human rights research, develop their research capacity, and engage in learning and teaching. During this time, they will also conduct advocacy to further their work; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe; and share their work with the general public. The scheme runs annually from September until March.
The Protective Writing Fellowship is a new initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of human rights defenders at risk who are in leadership positions within local human rights movements and organisations. It builds on and complements our Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, which we have run since 2008.
The Protective Writing Fellowship offers a three-month Fellowship at the University of York to experienced human rights defenders (HRD) in key positions in their local human rights movement, providing these individuals space for reflection and for development of strategic thinking. At CAHR Fellows engage in human rights research and develop their research and writing capacity. During this time, they will have opportunities to engage with UK based scholars on a human rights research topic of their interest; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom; and share their experience with the general public.
The Fellowship's pilot was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021/22 we are hosting two writing fellows as part of our established Protective Fellowship Scheme. We expect to pilot the Protective Writing Fellowship from May until July 2023.
The fellowships take place at the University of York and last for a period of three or six months. The Centre accepts up to eight human rights defenders as visiting fellows every year across the two schemes. Nominations to the fellowships are accepted from recognised civil society organisations and inter-governmental organisations working in human rights and/or specifically with human rights defenders.
A call for nominations is currently open with a deadline on 16 January 2022, 23:59 GMT. Fellowships will take place from May until July 2023.
For nomination forms and queries regarding the schemes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications for fellowships can only be made via a nominating organisation. A reputed civil society organisation who knows the HRD's human rights work can act as their nominating organisation. Organisations cannot nominate their own employees or volunteers. The Centre cannot consider individual petitions.
I would say it is one of the most useful fellowships I could imagine. Not only the content that I've learned, but also the connections and friendship that will last for a long time.
Sittipong, Thailand, Fellow Spring 2010
The Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders is generously supported by FIDDH, Jerry Lockspeiser, York Annual Fund, York Alumni and the University of York.
The Centre for Applied Human Rights appreciates any donation, no matter how big or small. If you would like to donate online, please visit the Global Alumni Association.