» The Project

The involvement of Catalan cities in the defense and promotion of human rights has a long history that has been developed both in actions for the local citizens and done internationally. In the first aspect, a good example is the “Xarxa de Ciutats i Pobles pels Drets Humans” promoted by the “Diputació de Barcelona” that has 134 municipalities who have joined the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City. As for the defense and promotion of human rights globally, Catalan municipalities have an extensive experience ranging from political advocacy (with the approval of motions on human rights issues) to raising awareness (by organizing various activities denouncing human rights violations that occur in all regions of the world) to more specific actions such as financing development cooperation projects directly related to human rights or to the reception of human rights defenders at risk.

“Ciutats defensores dels drets humans” is a joint project between Fons Català de Cooperació al Desenvolupament, Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat, Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya and Institut Català Internacional per la Pau, with the participation of 25 municipalities and other Catalan institutions that want to publicize the work of human rights defenders, helping to educate the citizens of the participating cities on the need to integrate human rights in our daily work. The project takes place twice a year, with different cities organizing the spring edition and the autumn edition. In every edition, a group of human rights defenders is invited for 8-12 days, during which they participate in many activities of different nature (conferences, round tables, institutional meetings, visits to schools, etc.), which contribute to raise awareness about the work of human rights defenders and about the importance of supporting them. The project also involves the organization of a conference on the subject of human rights defenders, as well as other supplementary activities.

» Objectives

Improve the knowledge, promotion, and defense of human rights among citizens of the participating cities.


Specific objectives

  • To publicize the work of different defenders of human rights, helping in this way their protection.
  • To make visible the work of the participating municipalities as human rights defenders cities.
  • Helping the exchange of experiences between defenders from around the world, identifying similarities and differences in their work.
  • Make known the roots, situation and the effects of the conflict that are lived in the places of origin of the defenders.

» Institutional statement

Institutional statement of the “Cities defending Human Rihghts” project (DH)

Peace, human rights and solidarity have to be the focal points of all public policy, both national and international. Cities, as the nearest institution to citizens, have been assets of these policies for more than 20 years, with the implementation of the Declaration of Barcelona about Cities and Human Rights (1998), which lead to the passing of the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City two years later.
In solidarity and support with all struggles for human rights all over the world, some Catalan municipalities organize for the sixth consecutive year, and with the support of civil society and other public institutions, the project Ciutats defensores de drets humans, which will have two editions this year, in the fall and in the spring.
This project brings to the spotlight the work of human rights defenders: individuals and civil associations that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedom, particularly with historically vulnerable collectives, such as women, youth, minorities and displaced or dispossessed people.
A lot of these defenders risk their lives and freedom just for vindicating and exerting their universal rights: social rights and political participation rights that are stepped on in their own countries by the public authorities or with their acquiescence. According to Front Line Defenders, more than 300 defenders have been assassinated for their work in 2017. And pressures and threads affect thousands every year. That is why, one more year, and when we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration of Defenders of Human Rights, we support the project “Ciutats defensores dels drets humans” and:

  1.  We vindicate the validity and respect for the rights recognized internationally, as well as the rights of the defenders of Human Rights to develop their work without any risk or threat.
  2. We vindicate the validity and full respect for the rights of people who defend human rights in the development of their work without risks or threats, particularly for women who require special protection.
  3. We remind and support the claim made by the United Nations twenty years ago to defend the ones that defend Human Rights, as an ethic and politic compromise of all democratic governments.
  4. We acknowledge that minorities of all sorts are in an especial vulnerable situation to the violation of Human Rights and their rights should be especially protected.
  5. We condemn the imposition of limitations on the work of the defenders of Human Rights and their persecution from authoritarian governments. These actions are incompatible with International Law on Human Rights. We also demand freedom and withdrawal of all charges for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, Omid Kokabee and Ilham Tohti, defenders that take part in this project, and that are in prison or with conditional release in their countries of origin because of their activism. .
  6. We renew our commitment with Human Rights and we commit ourselves to maintaining and intensifying local public policies in support of the defenders of Human Rights, not only locally but internationally. .