Human rights defenders & security

Shelter City Initiative

Shelter City is a national initiative of Justice and Peace in collaboration with Dutch cities, focusing specifically on the protection of Human Rights Defenders. Human Rights Defenders are fighting against violations of human rights in their own countries, often at the expense of their own safety. They face serious risks, arbitrary detention, torture and even 'disappearances'.

When Human Rights Defenders are severely being threatened because of their work, they can apply for a three-month temporary shelter in one of the six Dutch Shelter Cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Middelburg, Maastricht, Nijmegen and Utrecht. In these six cities about 15 Human Rights Defenders per year can be provided rest and respite.

Throughout their stay in The Netherlands, the Human Rights Defenders may continue their work in safety. Furthermore, they are able to extend their network of civil society organisationsorganizations and political contacts within The Hague, Brussels and further. The Human Rights Defenders also follow trainings to strengthen their skills while increasing public awareness in the Shelter Cities by speaking about human rights and the work they do at public events and workshops.


  • 30 May 2016: launch of the new call for applications
  • 22 June 2016: deadline for applicationsĀ 
  • 14 July 2016: Selection
  • Early September 2016: start of the programme for new participants

Watch short videos featuring former Shelter City participants.

More info? Contact Alexia Falisse.