The Bar Human Rights Committee has joined over 200 organisations around the world in signing an open letter endorsing the Nobel Peace Prize for the global community of Human Rights Defenders to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

The open letter, written to the Norwegian Nobel Committee is spearheaded by Peace Brigades International, a non-governmental organisation which supports human rights defenders and promotes non-violence.

The award would mark a world first by moving away from the celebration of individuals towards the community itself. The letter argues that doing so will “emphasise that the trends making the defence of human rights ever more risky and ever more admirable, are global” and “highlight that the community itself is integral to the defence of human rights and it is the idea of community that motivates people to take enormous risks defending the rights of others and advancing peace.”

In support of the letter, BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC stated:

“Human rights defenders around the world join hands to form the platforms from which individuals speak. They are the unsung silent workers who strive to combat the atrocities of man’s inhumanity to man. They are selfless, courageous and committed to protecting the vulnerable and drawing attention to human rights violations. Often they are condemned and stigmatised by States and political actors. The Nobel Peace Prize would be a fitting recognition of their work, as well as providing further strength to human rights defenders in a dangerous, global struggle. “

The release of the open letter is accompanied by a public petition: Human Rights Defenders for the Nobel Peace Prize, which can be signed here.

You can read the article in the Independent by Michel Forst, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, and  Susi Bascon, the director of Peace Brigades International UK on why the human rights defenders should win here.

You can read the open letter here.