Reflections on my first term as mandate holder – August 2023

15 August 2023

In May 2020, I took up my mandate from the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, tasked with promoting the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

I set out my priorities in my first report to the UN General Assembly later that year and have since strived to meet them, focusing on direct contact with human rights defenders – in particular those at high risk – and engagement with states.

At the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council earlier this year, my mandate was extended for a further three years in a clear show of support for human rights defenders around the world.

I would like to thank all the human rights defenders who have got in touch with me and my team over these last three years, as well as civil society groups and states themselves.

I would also like to thank my fellow mandate holders within the Special Procedures system at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with whom I have collaborated to carry out much of my work.

Looking forward, I intend to continue to follow-up on the priorities I set, advocating for all states to respect the work of human rights defenders, engage with them as allies and provide them protection where they are at risk.

Vertical infographic compiling statistics about Mary Lawlor's first term as UN Special Rapporteur. The image reads: "In her first term as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor met 1288 human rights defenders in one-to-one or small group meetings, including 689 women human rights defenders. She sent 782 communications to States and other actors individually and with other mandate holders. She researched, drafted and led on 332 of them. She participated in 263 panels, events and trainings, both online and in person, with a combined 24,000+ attendees. She held 177 format meetings with State representatives and undertook country visits to Greece and Tajikistan. She presented 7 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. She organised 2 video campaigns on LGBTQI+ Human rights defenders and Human Rights Defenders with disabilities."
At the bottom of the infographic is the URL to the Special Rapporteur's website,