Who are Child Human Rights Defenders (CHRDs)?

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Introduction to CHRDs

Who are human rights defenders (HRDs)?

Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders states: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.

HRDs globally are acting in a variety of contexts and countries, on many different human rights issues and through various types of action – whether online or offline, individually or as part of a group. What unites them is their main purpose to protect and promote human rights.

Who are CHRDs?

According to the United Nations, all children taking any kind of action to promote and protect human rights, including children’s rights, are defenders, even if they or others use another terminology (i.e. actors of change, child advocates/activists, agents of transformation, etc.).

The agreed definition in the Implementation Guide on the Rights of CHRDs is: 

Child Human Rights Defenders

Children who take actions to promote, protect and fulfil human rights, including children’s rights, are human rights defenders, even if they do not see themselves as such, or are not considered and called as such by others.

What is the situation of CHRDs?

CHRDs not only have the same rights as adult defenders, but the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) expands some of these rights taking into account children’s distinctive social context. Children experience specific and additional challenges and violations when acting as human rights defenders because of their status in society, lack of political power, lack of voting rights and dependence on parents/guardians. Some children may face even more barriers based on their gender, ability, ethnicity, culture or because where they live.

You can find out more about the situation of CHRDs in the:



Child Human Rights Defender


Convention on the Rights of the Child


Children’s Rights Impact Assessment


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Human Rights Defender


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


National Human Rights Institution


Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure


Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe


Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children 


Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

The Committee

Committee on the Rights of the Child 

The Declaration or DHRD

The United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The Special Rapporteur

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders


United Nations