At Justice & Peace, we believe that the most effective way to promote universal human rights globally is through the support and protection of grassroots human rights defenders.
In 2012, Justice & Peace founded Shelter City as a concrete and accessible way to support human rights defenders at risk. Shelter City is a global movement of cities, organisations and people who stand side by side with human rights defenders at risk. We offer them a safe and inspiring space where they re-energise, receive tailor-made support and engage with allies to reinforce their local actions for change.
Today, Shelter City is a growing global movement of committed cities, institutions and people. Each Shelter City comprises a local network of organisations and citizens that offer human rights defenders a safe and inspiring stay for three months. Currently, there are a total of 20 local Shelter Cities in the Netherlands, Georgia, Tanzania, Benin, Costa Rica, Nepal and the United Kingdom. To date, Shelter City has supported over 300 human rights defenders from all over the world.
Follow Shelter City on Facebook & Instagram @sheltercityglobal.
Who are human rights defenders?
A human rights defender is anyone who peacefully promotes freedom and justice. A lawyer defending the rights of LGBTI+ people, a fisherman protecting his community from pollution caused by a power plant and a journalist advocating freedom of speech, are just a few examples.
Many human rights defenders are threatened because of their actions, facing intimidation, trumped up charges and even physical attack. A firm believer in the power of global solidarity, Shelter City stands side by side with them.
“I’ve been working for so long and a great part of my life has been dedicated to human rights work and human rights defenders. But I’d forgotten a lot about my wellbeing. These 3 months made me realise that it’s very important to look after yourself. I can only do it for others if I can do it for myself. I can protect others, if I can protect myself. I can be strong for others if I can be strong for myself.”
– Mojalifa, LGTBI+ rights defender from Zimbabwe and Shelter City Tilburg guest 2021
In Shelter City, human rights defenders can rest, expand their networks, develop skills and acquire new knowledge to enhance their resilience. Our goal is to enable them to continue their actions for change with renewed energy and in a safer and more effective way.
Human rights defenders can temporarily escape from their threatening situation and rest and re-energise in a safe, warm and inspiring environment.
They receive support tailored to their individual needs, for example medical care, psychological support, security trainings and development of expertise.
Join the movement
Shelter City is a concrete and accessible way to support human rights defenders at risk. Do you want to support Shelter City and human rights defenders? Here are ways how:
- Volunteer with Shelter City and contribute with your skills and time, for example by showing a human rights defender around in your city;
- Connect with us and invite a human rights defender for a lecture or workshop with your students or to speak at an event;
- Contribute to the support and protection of human rights defenders in Shelter City with a donation or inheritance;
- Create a Shelter City by building a network of like-minded partners in your city and be a part of a growing global movement
- Or do you have another idea for Shelter City? We would like to hear about it via info[at]sheltercity.org.
Who can apply for Shelter City?
Shelter City in the Netherlands is open for applications for human rights defenders at risk twice a year, in May and November.
In order to be eligible for Shelter City, human rights defenders should meet certain criteria and conditions. These can be found via the link below.
Stories of Shelter City guests
Génesis, standing up for justice in Venezuela
Génesis Dávila is a human rights lawyer and defender from Venezuela, who together with her organisation supports victims of human rights violations. Génesis was a guest of Shelter City Rotterdam in 2019. Her stay provided her with a safe environment to continue her work and strengthen her capacities.
Madi, a voice for change in The Gambia
Gambian human rights defender Madi Jobarteh has spent his life working with others to strengthen democracy and civil rights in The Gambia. Madi was a Shelter City guest in Groningen in 2017. His stay allowed him to continue his work from a safe place, while taking part in human rights courses and expanding his network.
Louisa, challenging gender-based violence in Nigeria
Louisa Ono Eikhomun is a community organiser, author, researcher, and founder of the organisation Echoes of Women in Africa. She was a guest in Shelter City Groningen in 2018. Her stay allowed her to expand her network of allies and take the time to rest.