» 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. A good example was the “Network of Cities and Peoples for Human Rights” promoted by the “Diputació de Barcelona” and integrated by more than 147 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.Actions are also being taken to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, in local and human rights issues.

“Cities defending Human Rights” is a joint project between the Catalan Development Cooperation Fund, the Catalan Commission for Refugees, the Catalan Institute for Human Rights and the Catalan International Institute for Peace, 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.

» Objectives

Making visible and accompanying the work of human rights defenders and denouncing the persecution they suffer in order to improve the knowledge, the promotion and the defense of human rights among the citizens of the participating cities.


Specific objectives

  • Making visible and supporting the work of human rights defenders and strengthening support networks to improve their empowerment and protection.
  • Raising awareness about the roots, the situation and the effects of the conflicts that are experienced in the places of origin of the defenders.
  • Promoting human rights activism among the citizenship of the participating municipalities.

» Institutional statement

Institutional statement of the “Cities defending Human Rights” project (DH) 2020

The defense of human rights is a duty that all democratic administrations must fulfil both at a global and a local level. Cities have a key role in the promotion and the guarantee of human rights, as recognized in the European Charter for Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City and the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City.

In solidarity and support with the fights for human rights that are maintained across the world, different Catalan cities organize for the eight consecutive year, the “Cities defending Humans Rights” project, with the support of civil society and public institutions.

The aim of this project is to value the task of human rights defenders; individuals or collectives that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly those of displaced people, women, indigenous communities, LGBTI people, people with disabilities or those belonging to national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.

We thus comply with the 1998 United Nations mandate, aimed at the entire international community to protect human rights defenders, and in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the 16th and 17th objectives, for the promotion of peace and the generation of alliances.
Many of these human right defenders have lost their lives by claiming and exercising universal rights and others have lost their freedom. Moreover, the task of thousands of them is criminalized in order to silence their struggles.

In a context of increasing discourses of far right ideas, intolerance, male chauvinism, homophobia and racism, and of discrimination against defenders, Cities Defending Human Rights appeals to the principles of human rights as a point of union and dialogue. Whoever defends these principles should not be criminalized.

In solidarity and in support of human rights defenders and their struggles:

  1.  We are part of the Project “Cities Defending Human Rights” one more year. In 2020, the Project will have two editions, one in March-April and one in October.
  2.  We demand the validity and the full respect of the rights of human rights defenders to carry out their work without risks or threats, particularly of women defenders who require special protection, as well as defenders of land and the environment.
  3.  We demand the full respect of the fundamental rights of people who are forced to flee their homes, with particular care for the rights of women and children, in all phases of their departure from the country until their final settlement.
  4.  We recall the special situation of vulnerability of some minorities and groups and the lack of defense that they are exposed to when they suffer human rights violations.
  5.  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.
  6.  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 governments, criminal organizations and parastatal agents.
  7.  We commit to disseminate the work of human right defenders and to facilitate the reflection and the debate around their task, recognizing the importance of education, especially amongst the youth.
  8.  We renew or commitment to human rights and we are committed to maintaining and intensifying local public policies in support of human rights defenders, both locally and internationally.