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18 Oct 2018

ENNHRI to host its annual conference focusing on Human Rights Defenders in Europe

Brussels, 18 October 2018

The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) is hosting its annual conference on 25 October 2018 in Athens, Greece. It will bring together over 100 key human rights stakeholders from across Europe to discuss how National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can better support democratic space and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

This focus comes at a crucial time, as Europe faces a number of threats to human rights and the rule of law, such as legislation restricting the financing and activities of human rights organisations, the killing of journalists, attacks on freedom of assembly and interferences with judicial independence.

“NHRIs play a crucial role in promoting and protecting human rights by monitoring their implementation, advising the state and promoting a culture of rights. In other words, we are here to help bridge the gap between state’s human rights promises and the reality”, says ENNHRI Board Chair, Lora Vidović.

“In these challenging times, I am sure the conference will be a great opportunity for different stakeholders to work together in developing concrete ways to bolster support for HRDs, including NHRIs”, she adds.

Participants will include European NHRIs, other HRDs, civil society actors and representatives from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Council of Europe, European Union institutions and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The conference will include high-level panels and interactive roundtables for open dialogue and debate, providing an opportunity to take stock of the threats faced by NHRIs and other HRDs and good practices across the region.

With this year marking twentieth anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and ten years since the Council of Europe Recommendation on HRDs, it is an ideal occasion to raise awareness of NHRIs’ role as HRDs and as supporters of other HRDs.

The event builds on last week’s 13th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions in Marrakesh, Morocco, held by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, which resulted in the adoption of the Marrakesh Declaration – a commitment by NHRIs to promote and protect the rights of HRDs.


  • European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) gathers over 40 NHRIs from across wider Europe
  • NHRIs are independent bodies with a constitutional or legal mandate to promote and protect human rights, including Ombuds Institutions, Human Rights Commissions and Institutes
  • ENNHRI’s goal is to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights across the wider Europe region, by bringing together NHRIs to work on a wide range of human rights issues and supporting their development)

Follow the conference on Twitter with the hashtag #ENNHRI2018.

Download ENNHRI’s new publication – ’National Human Rights Institutions and Human Rights Defenders: Enabling human rights and democratic space in Europe’

Find more detail about the conference here or by contacting the ENNHRI Secretariat: