Check out the video by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, launched on the occasion of his last report, addressing the situation of human rights defenders operating in conflict areas. "Each day, defenders take great risks to ensure that human rights are respected in war zone countries. It is time to acknowledge their contribution to international peace."
In this report, the last one before concluding his six-year mandate and presented to the Human Rights Council on 4 March 2020, Forst called on States and non-State actors to implement and strengthen protection mechanisms for defenders in conflict and post-conflict situations. “Defenders in conflict settings are courageous men and women who provide emergency relief, ensure access to civilians and document civilian casualties and violations of international law. In too many cases their contributions go unnoticed, while they face multiple threats to their safety due to conflict related insecurity or the very nature of their work, for example when they denounce violations committed by warring parties. Women defenders are particularly exposed to gender based violence, including sexual violence” Forst said.
According to the UNSR on HRDs, defenders in conflict and post-conflict situation face serious restrictions on their freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Their activities are restricted in the name of national security, public order and counter-terrorism; or through obstacles such as NGO registration, access to funding, suspension of online communications and cyber-attacks. Journalist and NGO staff members face arrest and criminal charges for denouncing human rights violations.