Norwegian National Human Rights Institution

Raising awareness on the role of human rights defenders in democratic societies


In 2019, the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution and the Norwegian NGO Forum on Human Rights conducted a survey on human rights defenders, with questions based on the provisions of the UN declaration on human rights defenders.

The resulting report, based on the survey’s results, intended to raise awareness of the role of and challenges faced by human rights defenders. It also sought to enhance understanding of international standards on this topic. The report (in Norwegian) is available on the NHRI’s website.

The survey found that, generally, human rights defenders in Norway have good working conditions. Yet some respondents expressed dissatisfaction with public consultation processes and concerns about financial sustainability. Although very few violent incidents were reported, harassment and threats online were more prevalent.

Interestingly, the NHRI noted that actors who clearly fell within the category of human rights defenders often do not define themselves as such.

As a follow-up, the NHRI will reinforce with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding draft UN resolutions on human rights defenders, including facilitating ENNHRI engagement. It is also aiming to increase meaningful dialogue between civil society and authorities on UN recommendations.

Listen to Adele Matheson Mestad, Director of the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, share the experience of human rights defenders in Norway and present findings from their 2019 survey. Subtitles are available.

This resource is co-funded by the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.