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Information for Human Rights Defenders working in Uganda


This page provides key information to help the work of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) working in Uganda. It includes information on who you can contact in an emergency, what funding support can be provided, how the EU Delegation and EU Member States' Missions support HRDs in Uganda and which international mechanisms exist to support the work of HRDs.

Emergency Contacts for Human Rights Defenders in Uganda

In cases of emergency, HRDs working in Uganda can contact either:

HRDs at risk are advised to use secure communications channels when communicating sensitive information. Signal Private Messenger is a secure instant messaging app that is recommended for use by HRDs and can be downloaded on any smartphone.

What is a Human Rights Defender?

The definition of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) used by the European Union is a broad one based on that of the UN Declaration on human rights and defenders. HRDs are those individuals, groups and organs of society that promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. This includes civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The definition does not cover those individuals or groups who commit or propagate violence or those who seek to destroy the rights of others. Some of the work of HRDs may require simply financial and moral support. The work of HRDs often involves criticism of government policies and actions.

Funding for Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Defenders facing risks or threats in Uganda can apply for short term funding via, the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide. Led by a Consortium of 12 NGOs active in the field of human rights, provides a stable, comprehensive and gender-sensitive EU support to individuals and local actors who strive to promote and defend human rights worldwide. is committed to reaching Human Rights Defenders working in remote areas and countries where it is particularly dangerous to work in human rights defense. It also focuses on defenders who are especially targeted, including women human rights defenders, defenders of LGBTI rights, land and environmental rights defenders, economic and social rights defenders, defenders of minorities, lawyers, and those fighting for freedom of expression and association. is supported by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which provides for 95% of its funding.

Longer term funding to support the work of HRDs and civil society organisations working in support of HRDs can also be accessed through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Find out more about the EIDHR here, and check the website of the EU Delegation in Uganda regularly for new funding opportunities.

The EU's Local Implementation Strategy on Human Rights Defenders

The EU Delegation in Uganda and EU Member States present in Uganda developed a Local Implementation Strategy to guide implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders 2008 (see more on this below). The Local Implementation Strategy sets out the purpose of our support to HRDs and lists a range of activities which we conduct in support of HRDs in Uganda.

Broadly, these are:

  1. Monitoring, reporting and assessment of the situation facing HRDs in Uganda
  2. Support and protection of HRDs
  3. Promotion of HRDs' work in multilateral and regional fora

The Local Implementation Strategy also contains a useful list of human rights funders, as well as a range of other resources for HRDs. Please click here to download the full text of the guidelines.

Key dates of interest

Every year, the EU Delegation in Uganda and EU Member States' missions organise events to mark a number of international days that could be of interest to human rights defenders working on a range of topics. Please get in touch if you are interested in collaborating with us on any of these days:

  • 8th March – International Women's Day
  • 3rd May – World Press Freedom Day
  • 17th May – International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)
  • 26th June – United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • 15th September – International Day of Democracy
  • 10th October – World Day Against the Death Penalty
  • 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • 10th December – Human Rights Day

The EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders 2008

The European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in 2008, recognised that support for human rights defenders is already a long established element of the European Union’s human rights external relations policy. The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide practical suggestions for enhancing EU action in relation to this issue. The Guidelines can be used in contacts with third countries at all levels as well as in multilateral human rights fora, in order to support and strengthen ongoing efforts by the Union to promote and encourage respect for the right to defend human rights. The Guidelines also provide for interventions by the EU for human rights defenders at risk and suggest practical means to support and assist human rights defenders. Download the full text of the guidelines here.

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1998

Adopted by consensus by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders is an important international text which emphasises that everyone – including states, individuals and groups – has a responsibility to become part of a global movement for human rights. While not a legally binding instrument, the Declaration sets out a number of principles derived from human rights standards found in other international human rights treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Read the full text of the Declaration here.

UN Special Procedures

The United Nations has created over fifty special procedures led by human rights experts whose job it is to report and advise on human rights issues, either on a thematic or country basis. These can be working groups, independent experts or special rapporteurs. They cover topics including enforced or involuntary disappearances; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and the rights to the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. There is also a designated Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders. Visits by these Special Mechanisms to monitor a human rights situation in a given country can often be an effective way of supplementing advocacy efforts in support of HRDs. You can read more about UN Special Procedures here.