Below you will find a selection of manuals and other resource materials which may be of use to you in improving your personal security. Front Line Defenders will be happy to receive any other resource material which you might like to share with other human rights defenders.

General Security & Protection and Digital Security

For resources on security and protection such as the Workbook on Security: Practical Steps for Human Rights Defenders at Risk (Front Line Defenders, 2011) , the Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders (Front Line Defenders, 2005) and the Protection Handbook for Human Rights Defenders (Front Line Defenders, 2007) see Training in Security and Protection. For resources on digital security and privacy for human rights defenders see Front Line Defenders' Digital Security Programme

United Nations

What Protection Can United Nations Field Presences Provide? (Front Line Defenders, 2012) This guide gives an outline of what UN agencies can do locally to provide protection for human rights defenders. It aims to give practical and helpful suggestions on how to engage constructively with the UN. It is also meant to encourage UN agencies and UN officials to implement their commitments to human rights and human rights defenders. The handbook is also available in French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.

The UN Fact sheet No. 29: Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights is designed to provide Governments and a wide range of professionals who frequently come into contact with human rights defenders with a rapid understanding of what a “human rights defender” is and what activities defenders undertake. It is also designed to support the right to defend human rights; to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders from any repercussions of their work; and to provide a tool for human rights defenders in conducting advocacy and training activities. It is also available here in French / Spanish / Arabic / Russian

UN and Regional Mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders This guide describes regional UN programs in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Human Wrongs, Human Rights: A guide to the human rights machinery of the United Nations A guide to the human rights machinery of the United Nations this guide will help NGOs, lawyers and individuals to find their way around the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations.

The European Union: What it can do, Getting it to take action

While the European Union and its Member States can contribute to the protection of human rights defenders, HRDs might not know exactly when they should seek help from the EU or how to approach it. This handbook is meant to address this need and shows what protection they can expect from the EU – with a particular focus on its field Missions, i.e. EU Delegations and Member State Embassies –, and how to proceed to get the EU to take action. It also gives some tips for effective strategies for lobby and advocacy towards the EU. It also contains a quick reference table for requesting EU action, as well as the full text of the EU Guidelines on human rights defenders, which is the reference document adopted by the EU in 2004 in which its declares its willingness “to influence third countries to carry out their obligations to respect the rights of human rights defenders and to protect them from attacks and threats from non-State actors.”

The handbook is also available in French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.

Schengen visas

The Guidebook on Application Process for Schengen Visa (Front Line Defenders May 2012 ) is a useful tool for anyone who wants to better understand the Schengen visa application process and find their way in a labyrinth that may be seen as arbitrary and bureaucratic. It is however first aimed at human rights defenders at risk who need to come to Europe for temporary relocation, in order to flee extremely insecure and stressful environments. Besides general information on the Schengen visa procedure, whose main source is the aforementioned European Commission Handbook, this document provides useful tips based on past experiences by human rights defenders and international human rights organisations, with a view to help speed up the visa delivery process. Such a guidebook cannot be definite. Rules are moving and new experiences can be recorded almost everyday. Therefore it is intended to update it on a regular basis thanks to the contributions of its readers. If you have any comments, suggestions for change or more importantly, informative experiences to share, please contact us at Any further versions will be numbered and dated.

Trial observation

The Trial Observation Handbook for Human Rights Defenders (Front Line Defenders 2012) is designed as a resource to enable trial observers to accurately report on trial proceedings and to contribute to the protection of HRDs facing prosecution by highlighting injustice and the lack of due process. The presence of trial observers sends out a clear message that the right to a fair trial in which all the evidence can be heard and examined without prejudice is a fundamental human right. It is largely based on the excellent work by the International Commission of Jurists in its Trial Observation Manual for Criminal Proceedings (see below) and is an attempt to summarise and adapt it in a more compact form which can be more readily distributed and used by human rights defenders.

The Trial Observation Manual for Criminal Proceedings: Practitioners Guide No. 5 (ICJ, 2009) provides trial observers with practical guidance on how to prepare for a trial observation mission, carry out the observation and write the follow-up report. It also provides a synthesis of the basic legal standards applicable in relation to (i) the right to a fair trial, (ii) the right to remedy of victims of human rights violations, and (iii) combating impunity. Available in English, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.

Women Human Rights Defenders

The Associate for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, of which Front Line Defenders is a member, have developed Our Right To Safety: Women Human Rights Defenders' Holistic Approach To Protection in an effort to assess the various mechanisms that have been developed to provide protection to WHRDs at risk, including initiatives developed by national governments, and regional and international human rights bodies.

The Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD International Coalition, 2012) is an advocacy and capacity building tool for WHRDs’ protection, giving a contextual analysis of the environment in which WHRDs work and the violations they face because of their gender and/or work defending women's rights and sexual rights. It draws on individual and collective analysis of organisations working with WHRDs. The analysis is informed by five key phenomena – fundamentalisms; militarization and situations of conflict; globalization; crises of democracy or governance; and heteronormativity.

Claiming Rights Claiming Justice - A guidebook on women human rights defenders (APWLD, 2007) is aimed to help women human rights defenders name the specific risks, violations and constraints they face in their work. It presents a practical discussion of the useful mechanisms developed by the state and also the civil society to provide redress and remedy, and to protect women human rights defenders.

Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe: Women’s Human Rights Defenders’ Security Strategies (Resiste) English (Front Line Defenders, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights and Kvinna Till Kvinna, 2008), known as "Resiste", brings us the voices of women human rights defenders from all over the world. The purpose of the report is to make the threats encountered by women human rights defenders in their work visible as well as the strategies they use to combat and handle the threats. The report is available in French / Spanish / Russian / Arabic / Bosnian/ Chinese
A Summary of the Report (in English) is also available.

List of Materials and Resources for Women Human Rights Defenders (AWID & WHRD International Coalition, 2011) is a compilation of resources dealing with the safety, security and protection of defenders, resources that WHRDs can consult concerning their wellbeing and self-care, on how to document and monitor violations of women’s rights, as well as on the rights and mechanisms available to WHRDs at risk.

Online Directory of Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk is a collective effort to systematize the range of responses available for WHRDs at risk, with information about women’s and human rights organizations at international and regional levels. We hope that this resource will be used by WHRDs and their organizations worldwide to access information and support when facing emergency situations. The information will be continuously updated and new resources added to the Directory. Spanish and French versions will be available in early 2013.

Ten Insights to Strengthen Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk
(AWID & Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, 2012) presents key considerations for strengthening responses for WHRDs at risk, by ensuring that they are strategic and properly resourced. The publication is a companion to Urgent Responses to WHRDs at Risk: Mapping and Preliminary Assessment (AWID & WHRD International Coalition, 2011).

Front Line Defenders' Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Online Manual
The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Online Manual (Front Line Defenders, 2004) is an easy-to-use resource aimed at building human and institutional capacity to effectively use ESC rights. Although the cases cited are mostly of a legal nature, and that the governing standards are framed within international law, this manual is not aimed at lawyers alone but offered as resource to all concerned with the promotion and defense of ESC rights, including grassroots activists and their organizations.

Front Line Defenders' Civil and Political Rights Online Manual
The Civil and Political Rights Manual (Front Line Defenders, 2003) is designed for human rights defenders working on civil and political rights, including those who do not have a legal training.

The International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court - Information for Human Rights Defenders Information on how to utilise the ICC and who to contact.

Other Resources
New Tactics in Human Rights: A Resource for Practitioners captures the tactical innovations that people all around the world and at all levels, in small villages and in national governments as well as at the highest levels of international justice, are creating and using to make their work more effective.