Canada launches updated guidelines to support human rights defenders around the world

News release

June 17, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Human rights are at the core of Canada’s foreign policy. As part of this commitment, today the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced the launch of Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders.

Voices at Risk offers practical advice for Canadian diplomats working around the world, and in Canada, to support human rights defenders who seek help. The guidelines are informed by the work and advice of civil society organizations and reflect the experiences of Canadian representatives working across the globe to support human rights defenders.

The overall goal of the guidelines is to enable the ongoing work of human rights defenders, with the support of Canadian diplomats around the world.


“In many parts of the world, human rights defenders are at risk as a result of their courageous work and their willingness to speak truth to power. Canada and the international community need to be strong supporters of these brave individuals. Human rights defenders must be able to act freely and without any interference, intimidation, abuse, threats, violence or reprisal. We are committed to speaking out against violations, standing up for human rights defenders and striving for a world where the rights and freedoms of all people are respected.”

- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • The 2019 edition of Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders has been updated to include specific guidance for human rights defenders belonging to identifiable groups that face discrimination in various contexts, including but not limited to women, LGBTQ2 individuals, Indigenous peoples, land or environmental defenders, persons with disabilities, youth, individuals who defend freedom of religion or belief, journalists, and defenders in online and digital contexts.

  • The 2019 edition reflects Canada’s feminist foreign policy as well as an understanding that human rights defenders may experience numerous and concurrent forms of discrimination, harassment and marginalization. 

Associated links


Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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