International Protection Measures

© Marc Lewis Ramage

The listed international protection measures entail programs that offer temporary relocation and/or capacity building to HRDs mostly in but not limited to Europe. As far as temporary relocation programs for threatened HRDs are concerned a funding organization often provides the financial means to an NGO or Church that hosts the HRD. Pre-established relations with possible host organizations are an asset. In other cases Universities, Cities or the funding organization itself host the HRD. The application process, duration of the stay and conditionalities differ.

Columbia Law School: Human Rights Institute Practitioner-in-Residence Program

Organization: Columbia Law School
Special Focus: Human Rights Practitioners

The practitioner-in-residence program is designed for human rights practitioners from NGOs, government, United Nations, and other inter-governmental agencies at the Human Rights Insitute of the Columbia Law School in New York City.

The Human Rights Institute opens its academic infrastructure to practitioners who wish to pursue their own research, writing, and scholarly discussions in relation to their human rights practice in a period between one month and one year.

The Practitioners-in-Residence program usually does not provide full financial coverage. Excemptions can apply to applicants from the global South. 

The HRI accepts applications on a rolling basis. The application can be sent  to (subject line “Application for Practitioner-in-Residence Program”). 

Needed documents: a CV, a one-page letter of interest, a project or research proposal of no more than five pages, setting out the applicant’s proposed work plan for their residence at the Human Rights Institute, and  two references.

For more information, please visit:

Colombia Law School: HRI Practitioner-in-Residence Program


Columbia University - Institute for the Study of Human Rights: Human Rights Advocates Program

Organization: Columbia University – Institute for the Study of Human  Rights (ISHR)
Special Focus: Capacity building for grassroot Human Rights Advocates with a University diploma

The Institute to Study Human Rights (ISHR) established its Human Rights Advocates Program to provide capacity building to grassroots leaders. Human Rights Advocates can acquire tools, knowledge, access, and networks to further their human rights work and strengthen their organizations.

It is a four-months intensive program for human rights activists working with NGOs on issues including sexual and gender-based violence, minority rights, LGBTQI+ rights, labor rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, migration, health, social exclusion, environmental justice, disability rights, and corporate social accountability.

The ISHR accepts applications from advocates who work on the grassroot level and hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Fluency in English is also required. Only one member of an organization can apply.

Needed documents: two signed letters of recommendation, proof of institutional endorsement, University diploma, more detailed and vital instruction can be found on the program’s homepage.

For more information about the program, please visit:

Institute for the Study of Human Rights – Human Rights Advocates Program: Overview

For more information about eligibility and application, please visit:

Institute for the Study of Human Rights – Human Rights Advocates Program: Admissions Information


Dejusticia: Fellowship program for human rights defenders from the Global South

Organization: Dejusticia
Special Focus: human rights defenders

The Colombian organization Dejusticia has developed a 3-6 months fellowship program to support human rights defenders of the Global South who, because of their work, have been subjected to elevated risk from repressive actions by governments and other actors. Dejusticia hosts endangered human rights defenders, involves them in its work and offers capacity building and respite. The program covers travel expenses and a monthly stipend.

The application needs to be processed via a google/ gmail account and can be accessed via the program’s homepage.

Needed documents: motivation letter, CV, letter of institutional support, 1-page proposal for a project (e.g. blogs, article, video)

For more information, please visit:

Fellowship program for human rights defenders from the Global South


ESI: Temporary relocation in Germany

Organization: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Ifa)/ Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative (ESI)
Special Focus: None

The Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative provides threatened human rights defenders with a safe place in Germany to recuperate, cope with trauma, and when possible, to network and further develop their professional skills for 4-6 months. The first contact is via Email and the HRD does not need any formal endorsement. It can be very helpful though to have a potential host organization and an endorsement. The program also allows temporary relocation for immediate family members of the HRD if necessary.

Needed documents: Personal Statement about security situation, applications by the HRD and the host organization, finance plan by the host organization.

For more information, please visit:


Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People

Organization: Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People
Special Focus: None

The Hamburg Foundation supports politically persecuted people who, be­cause of advocating for democracy, freedom and human rights, find them­selves in a dangerous, often life-threatening situation in their native countries. The foundation offers a temporary relocation for 12months in Hamburg, Germany and serves as a host organization at the same time.

Formless applications including a clear description of the threats, persecution and stress situation that suggest the need for a temporary relocation can be sent to 

Needed documents: CV



Justice and Peace Netherlands: Shelter City

Organization: Justice and Peace Netherlands
Focus: Human rights defenders

If human rights defenders are being threatened because of the work they do, they qualify for a stay of three months (in particular cases a six months stay may be possible) in one of the Dutch Shelter Cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen, Haarlem, Maastricht, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Middelburg, Zwolle, Tilburg, Rotterdam and Deventer. Justice and Peace Netherlands closely cooperates with the Dutch ministries and has a broad network to other Shelter cities in Europe.

During their stay in the Netherlands the human rights defenders continue their work in safety and they can take a breath. They grow their network of civil society organizations and political contacts in The Hague, Brussels, and elsewhere. They also follow trainings to improve their skills, for instance regarding safety or advocacy. And they can meet city residents. Rest and respite for human rights defenders is also an option.

Application process and contact: the call for applications is issued twice a year on social media and the program’s website. It takes about three months until an approved applicant can depart from her:his country. Fluency in English is a requirement of the program.

For more information, please visit: 

What we offer for human rights defenders at risk

Oak Institute for Human Rights: Oak Human Rights Fellowship

Organization: Oak Institute for Human Rights
Special Focus: None

Each year, the Oak Institute for Human Rights hosts an Oak Human Rights Fellow to teach and conduct research while residing at the College. The Institute organizes lectures and other events centered around the fellow’s area of expertise.

The purpose of the fellowship is to offer an opportunity for one prominent practitioner in international human rights to take a sabbatical leave from front-line work to spend the 3-months fall semester (September-December) in residence at Colby, Maine, USA. This provides the Fellow time for respite, reflection, research, and writing. While all human rights practitioners are eligible, the Oak Institute for Human Rights especially encourages applications from those who are currently or were recently involved in “on-the-ground” work at some level of personal risk. The program also allows immediate family members of the HRD to join the fellowship if necessary. Application period is September to December followed by an assessment process and notifications of approval are submitted starting April 15 of the succeeding year. Applications can be filled out online.

Needed documents: Application by HRD, two Letters of Recommendation, most recent resume (self-nomination by application possible) Temporary Relocation Grant

Special Focus: None allocates grants for Human Rights Defenders at risk to temporary relocate (max. of 12months) within their country or abroad, in case of threat, in partnership with host entities worldwide. During the relocation period, defenders are able to rest, seek rehabilitation, build their capacities through training, expand their international network of contacts, pursue their human rights work from a secure location and prepare their safe return. It is not necessary but can be very helpful though to have a potential host organization and an endorsement. The program also allows temporary relocation for immediate family members of the HRD if necessary. The application can be downloaded and sent by email to ProtectDefenders.Eu or be filled out online.

Host organizations in the Global North are expected to contribute 30% of the costs for each relocated HRD while host organizations in the Global South are expected to contribute 5%. partners with Front Line Defenders, FIDH, OMCT, RSF, UAF, EMHRF, Forum Asia and DefendDefenders. General assistance and advise can be sought here.

Specific assistance in emergency situations can be accessed through the Help desk of and Front Line Defenders

Needed documents: Applications by HRD (including the description of the security threats) and host organization (including finance plan and program activities). Should the HRD at risk have no host organization ProtectDefenders can help to find one. Depending on the capacity of organizations as well as the workload of those supporting the HRD finding a host can take some time.

For more information, please visit:

Practical support to human rights defenders at risk


University of York: Protective Fellowship for Human Rights Defenders

Organization: Center for Applied Human Rights/ University of York
Focus: Human rights defenders

The Britisch Center for Applied Human Rights at the University of York developed the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The program is aimed at strengthening the capacity of human rights defenders at risk and it is open to all human rights defenders who work in difficult environments or who are directly at risk.

The Scheme offers ordinarily a sixth-month Fellowship at the University of York, where Fellows engage in human rights research, develop their research capacity, and engage in learning and teaching.  During this time, they will also conduct advocacy to further their work; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe; and share their work with the general public. The scheme runs annually from September until March.

Another program is the Protective Writing Fellowship for Human Rights Defenders. It is a new initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of human rights defenders at risk who are in leadership positions within local human rights movements and organisations. In a three-months fellowship the Fellows engage in human rights research and develop their research and writing capacity.

Applications for fellowships need to be made through a nominating organisation. A reputed civil society organisation who knows the HRD’s human rights work can act as their nominating organisation. Organisations cannot nominate their own employees or volunteers. The Centre does not consider individual petitions. Nomination forms and queries can be requested via

For more information, please visit:

Protective Fellowships for Human Rights Defenders