From Africa to Europe: Enhancing global collaborations to protect human rights defenders at risk
Looking back at the Shelter City Global Partner Meeting
In October 2023, Justice & Peace Netherlands convened the Shelter City Global Partner Meeting titled ‘From Africa to Europe: Enhancing global collaborations to protect human rights defenders at risk’. The event, held in The Hague, served as a platform for collaboration, reflection, and strategic planning among partners in the Shelter City movement and the broader temporary relocation network.
Notably, the meeting marked a significant milestone, namely the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Ubuntu Hub Cities, represented by DefendDefenders. This partnership solidifies the movement’s commitment to fostering a united front in the protection of human rights defenders at risk worldwide.
The Global Partner Meeting also provided an invaluable opportunity for partners to engage with the broader temporary relocation network in Europe through collective reflection. Participants engaged in discussions about the state of the global movement at various levels – city, national, regional, and global levels – identifying ongoing challenges and potential areas for improvement.
‘We cannot do only protection; it’s important to combine advocacy for the protection of human rights defenders, influencing not only local policymakers but also looking at regional and global policymakers.’
Joseph Bikanda, AfricanDefenders
Through open dialogue and interactive panel discussions, partners sought to enhance the Shelter City movement’s effectiveness in responding to the evolving needs of human rights defenders at risk, with a focus on issues like greater access to visas and longer-term relocation.
The conversations initiated throughout the meeting were instrumental in fostering a deeper understanding of the issues at hand and identifying actionable steps to address them. Partners shared insights, strategies, and best practices, laying the groundwork for a stronger and more effective collaborative approach to the protection of human rights defenders.
‘It’s always a pleasure for me to be here… it’s a place for getting to know new partners, it’s a place for connecting with old friends, to share new stories. I always come back to Georgia refreshed and rejuvenated with new ideas and I hope the same way fuels other people as well.’
Christian Gryzwatz, Tblisi Shelter City
Find out more about the achievements, reflections, and discussions that took place during the Global Partner Meeting in the video below.
Filmed and edited by Lennard van der Valk.
Photos by Yasmijn Westenberg.
This meeting was made successful with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the municipality of The Hague.
Shelter City, an initiative by Justice & Peace, is growing global movement of committed cities, institutions, and people facilitating temporary relocation for human rights defenders at risk.