The British government this month issued the UK guidelines for human rights defenders looking for international support. The document ‘UK Support for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)’ outlines why human rights defenders are important to the British government and how the latter recognises the risks they incur in defending and promoting human rights.

The document also informs HRDs themselves how the UK government can support their work through its embassies around the world. This will be welcome news to the human rights community globally and, not least, in Peru where human rights work is increasingly difficult and dangerous to undertake (see PSG article).

The guidelines state that “the UK missions will, as a matter of good practice, maintain regular contact with human rights defenders as appropriate”, and they also set out a series of ways in which UK missions could provide support for human rights work. These include carrying out capacity building by funding local and international civil society organisations and in “helping to provide a framework and support network within which HRDs can work”.

The guidelines also set out the British government’s intention to engage internationally, by for example, “promoting responsible practice by global extractive businesses, particularly in oil, gas, mining and sourcing of diamonds and minerals in conflict-affected and high-risk areas”.

The document outlines specific examples of actions UK missions can take to help protect HRDs at risk, such as attending trials and visiting detained defenders and, where a company is implicated, it states that “UK missions will raise the concerns with the company at senior level”, quoting international responsibilities included in a number of standards, such as the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights. For the full document see here.