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Human Rights Defenders Unite: Challenges, Experiences, and Opportunities

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December 10, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark document signed in 1948 that enshrines the inalienable rights for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Human rights activists and defenders play a pivotal role in safeguarding the fundamental principles of human rights, justice, and democracy. Their unwavering commitment to the cause is the driving force behind progress and positive change.

Join Counterpart International, Alliance for Vietnam’s Democracy, and the Global Democracy Coalition for a series of panel discussions on December 11 in celebration of Human Rights Day. The hybrid event will bring together prominent panelists who have dedicated their lives to defending and promoting human rights. These panels serve as a testament to the indomitable spirit of those on the front lines of human rights advocacy and celebrate the courage and resilience of human rights defenders.

As a multi-stakeholder coalition that seeks to advance democracy globally, the Global Democracy Coalition includes more than 100 democracy organizations, many of which are working to promote fundamental human rights as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


9:00 AM – 9:15 AM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:15 AM – 10:30 AM

Regional Perspectives: Impact of Human Rights Defenders Protecting Civic Space

Willice Onyango, Youth Café

Dalia Ziada, Liberal Democracy Institute

Gina Romero, REDLAD

Shelly Mahajan, ADR

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM


10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Sustainable Civic Space to Promote Human Rights, Resilient Communities in Asia

Dr. Jianli Yang, Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Dolkun Isa, World Uyghur Congress

Celito Arlegue, Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats

Dr. Richard Saisomorn, Lao Human Rights Network

Dr. Nathan Nguyen, Vietnam Democracy Center.

Dr. David Tran of the Alliance for Vietnam’s Democracy.

12:00 PM – 12:15 PM


12:15 PM – 1:15 PM

Opportunities for Supporting Human Rights and Bolstering Democratic Spaces

Bryan Sims, Humanity United

Jordan Long, The Carter Center