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Home » York becomes the 18th city in the world and the first in the UK to join Shelter City

York becomes the 18th city in the world and the first in the UK to join Shelter City

Photo by: Alex Holland

Justice and Peace Netherlands and the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), making the city of York in the United Kingdom (UK) the 18th Shelter City. York will be joining a network of cities around the world that provide a temporary safe space and tailored support to human rights defenders at risk. The Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), which has provided support to human rights defenders for over 10 years, will be the coordinating partner of the new Shelter City, and work together with local partners.

CAHR is a part of the University of York, and is an interdisciplinary research and teaching centre with a focus on human rights defenders at its core. For over a decade, CAHR has provided support to human rights defenders, including through temporary relocation and research opportunities. CAHR runs the Protective Fellowship Scheme, and since 2008 has hosted 91 visiting human rights defenders from across the world. The city of York also became the first Human Rights City in the UK in 2017. Over the last few years, Justice and Peace Netherlands and CAHR have worked closely together on a research project that resulted in the publication of the Barcelona Guidelines on Wellbeing and Temporary International Relocation of Human Rights Defenders at Risk.

CAHR will continue to provide human rights defenders at risk with temporary relocation, tailormade support, training, and connect defenders with local allies. Justice and Peace and CAHR will work closely together through exchanging information, referring cases, and meeting regularly with other partners around the world involved in the initiative. CAHR is hoping to receive their first guests as a Shelter City in September 2021.

“We are delighted to sign the MoU with Justice and Peace Netherlands. It both builds on a strong existing partnership and will provide opportunities to deepen collaboration, in areas like training and research, to support human rights defenders. Global networks such as Shelter City have never been more important, and we are proud to sign up to its values of solidarity and collaboration.” – Professor Paul Gready, Director of Centre for Applied Human Rights

Despite the leaving of the UK from the European Union, Justice and Peace Netherlands welcomes this important development of stronger collaboration with other cities across Europe on the support for human rights defenders at risk from around the world.

“We at Justice and Peace Netherlands are very positive about welcoming York as a Shelter City, and we look forward to strengthening collaboration with CAHR and other partners in York over the coming years. We are also looking forward to learning from CAHR’s extensive expertise and research, which will contribute to improving the Shelter City programme. With more defenders in need of the support that Shelter City offers, this development marks a meaningful and necessary step to increasing and enhancing this support to defenders at risk.” – Sebastiaan van der Zwaan, Director of Justice and Peace Netherlands

About Shelter City

Shelter City is a global movement that creates safe and inspiring spaces for human rights defenders at risk where they re-energise, receive tailor-made support and engage with allies in order to reinforce their local actions for change.

The initiative was founded by Justice and Peace Netherlands in 2012, with The Hague as the first Shelter City. There are now 12 participating cities in the Netherlands, and in Batumi and Tbilisi, Georgia, San José, Costa Rica, Cotonou, Benin, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Each Shelter City is coordinated by local organisations, including NGOs, municipalities and other government institutions, universities, and together with local support staff and volunteers.

Would you like to know more about Shelter City, or how your city can become a Shelter City? Click here to find out more

Creating more safe spaces for human rights defenders at risk is needed now more than ever. This development has been made possible thanks to the kind support of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Justice and Peace team members with partners from CAHR, the international Shelter Cities, other international relocation initiatives, and wellbeing practitioners for the creation of the Barcelona Guidelines.