Democratic Security Sector Governance

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‘Human rights defender’ is a title used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote, or protect, human rights. Human rights defenders can act to address any human right, or rights, issues on behalf of individuals or groups. Defenders seek to promote and protect civil and political rights as well as the broader promotion, protection, and realisation of economic, social, and cultural rights.

Human rights defenders address many human rights concerns, including summary executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, discrimination, forced evictions, access to health care, and pollution. Defenders actively support human rights including the right to life, food and water, healthcare, housing, nationality, education, freedom of movement and non-discrimination. Defenders sometimes address the rights of categories of persons, such as those of women and children, refugees and internally-displaced persons, and national, linguistic or sexual minorities.

The majority of defenders work at local or national levels to support respect for human rights within their own communities and countries. Their main counterparts are local authorities charged with ensuring respect for human rights. Some defenders also act at regional or international levels. Defenders may monitor a regional or worldwide human rights situation and submit information to regional or international human rights mechanisms, including other special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council and treaty bodies.

The work of human rights defenders is often mixed with a focus on local and national human rights issues. They also sustain contact with regional and international mechanisms which can support them in improving human rights in their countries.


OSCE ODIHR, Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, (Warsaw: 2014)


Conference Proceedings 8: Human Rights and Security Sector Governance

This publication offers the proceedings of Conference 8 on  Human Rights and Security Sector Governance in Ukraine. The 8th conference had a special focus on Gender among other HR-related challenges in Ukraine. It has been noted that further engagement … read more

Key Issues and Policy Recommendations , Conference 5

This publication offers the Key Issues and Policy Recommendations based on the results of the Fifth International Conference “The Role of Ombuds Institutions in Security Sector Governance”. Conference Five, following to the previous conferences recomme … read more

Conference 8: Human Rights and Security Sector Governance: Ukraine’s Reform Challenges

  In the framework of the ‘Ukraine – Security Governance Best Practice and Monitoring Platforms’ project, the eighth conference will take place in Kiev between 21 and 22 June. This conference will address Ukraine’s reform challenges related to Hum … read more

Conference 5: The Role of Ombuds Institutions in Security Sector Governance

The fifth multi-stakeholder conference on “The role of the ombuds Institutions in security sector governance” took place on 29-30 November 2016 in Kyiv. The Ukrainian parliament commissioner for human rights opened the conference by clarifying the stat … read more

Gender and Complaints Mechanisms: A Handbook for Armed Forces and Ombuds Institutions

This handbook brings together knowledge and experience as regards prevention of misconduct, and handling and monitoring of complaints within armed forces, with particular regard to gender. The Handbook is a resource for armed forces, ministries of defe … read more

The Role of Good Governance in the Promotion of Human Rights

The concepts of good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights principles provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors. They also provide a set of performance standards against … read more

UNDP-OHCHR Toolkit for Collaboration with National Human Rights Institutions

The Toolkit identifies good practices and support strategies for projects aimed at supporting organisational development and capacity assessment generally, with a focus on the two substantive areas of NHRI work: Protection mandate: investigations, effe … read more

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society is addressed to the civil society actors who, every day in every part of the world, contribute to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. Developed … read more

Public Oversight of the Security Sector: A Handbook for Civil Society Organizations

This Handbook provides structured guidance for civil society organisations (CSOs) on the role they can play in democratic security sector oversight. Although many CSOs have facilitated security sector reform processes in transition and post-conflict st … read more

Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel

The Handbook is the product of a research project initiated in January 2005 by DCAF in cooperation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Rather than examining the external aspects of the issue, such as the conduct o … read more

Understanding Policing: A Resource for Human Rights Activists

This Resource Book builds on the assumption that an approach by human rights organizations that acknowledges the concerns and realities of the police and understands police language, will be more effective than an approach that sets itself apart and cr … read more

Human Rights and Law Enforcement: A Manual on Human Rights Training for the Police

This Trainer’s Guide is one component of a three-part package of materials for human rights training for police. The police-training package also includes a training manual and a pocketbook of human rights standards for police personnel. The three comp … read more

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