» 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

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


Specific objectives

  • Raising awareness about the work of different defenders of human rights, thus contributing to their protection.
  • Making visible the work of the participating municipalities as cities which defend human rights.
  • Facilitating the exchange of experiences between defenders from around the world, identifying similarities and differences in their work.
  • Raising awareness about the roots, the situation and the consequences of the conflicts that take place in the places of origin of the defenders.

» Institutional statement

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

The defence of human rights is a duty that all administrations must fulfil both at a global and a local level, as stated by international human rights law.

Cities have a key role in the promotion and the guarantee of human rights. For this reason, they have drafted and have adopted documents such as the European Charter for Safeguarding Human Rights in the City and the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City.

The United Nations request that governments grant a special protection to human rights defenders: individuals, groups and organizations from society which promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially those of groups that are in a situation of vulnerability.

Many of these human rights defenders risk their lives and freedom for claiming and exercising rights that are universal. In 2018, 321 human rights defenders were attacked and murdered in 27 countries due to their work. This is the highest number ever registered, according to data from Front Line Defenders.

In solidarity with the struggles for human rights all over the world and with human rights defenders who back this cause, 26 Catalan cities have designed and organized the project Ciutats Defensores dels Drets Humans, which takes place for seventh year with the support of civil society.

For all these reasons,

  1.  We join the project Ciutats Defensores dels Drets Humans for one more year. In 2019, the project will have two editions, one in March-April and one in October.
  2. We renew our commitment with human rights at a local level and we commit ourselves to preserving and broadening public policies of support to human rights defenders, both at a local and an international scale.
  3. We remind the special situation of vulnerability of some minorities and groups and the lack of defence that they are exposed to when they suffer human rights violations.
  4. We condemn the imposition of limitations to the activities of human rights defenders, incompatible with international human rights law. We also condemn their persecution and harassment by authoritative governments.
  5. We demand the immediate freedom of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (Bahrein) and Ilham Tohti (People’s Republic of China), whom for years we have wanted to invite to participate in the project, but who remain imprisoned only for having denounced human rights violations committed by their governments.
  6. We reject the judicial persecution to people and to organizations that are working for the defence and the guarantee of fundamental rights, as Helena Maleno (participant in the project in 2015) and Pro Activa Open Arms, amongst others.
  7. We reject the judicial persecution to people and to organizations that are working for the defence and the guarantee of fundamental rights, as Helena Maleno (participant in the project in 2015) and Pro Activa Open Arms, amongst others.
  8. We urge the Catalan and the Spanish Governments to preserve and to broaden public policies of support to human rights defenders at an international scale.