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National Coalitions of Human Rights Defenders

DefendDefenders has established and continues to support national coalitions of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. The coalitions form part of a network across the East and Horn of Africa through which HRDs can come together and claim their rights at the national level.

As national mechanisms, they are in a unique position to reach HRDs working in remote areas, who often lack access to support systems and are most vulnerable. The national coalitions play a vital role in implementing capacity building activities and providing protection for HRDs across the sub-region.

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Burundi (NCHRD-B)

The Coalition burundaise des défenseurs des droits de l’homme (CBDDH) was established in response to the assassination of HRD Ernest Manirumva on April 9, 2009. This tragic event spurred civil society organisations (CSOs) in Burundi to unite under the “Justice for Ernest Manirumva” campaign, demanding justice and protection for HRDs amidst government hostility towards media and activists.

Formally supported by DefendDefenders in 2013, CBDDH was officially launched in December 2014 during a workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi. Despite the political crisis in Burundi in 2015 forcing several HRDs to flee the country, CBDDH continued its operations, with its secretariat relocating to Uganda and operating in exile. Since 2015, new memberships have been suspended due to security concerns for existing members, particularly those still operating within Burundi.

CBDDH’s key activities include protecting HRDs at risk, enhancing their capacity both within the country and in exile, and advocating for the opening of civic space and respect for HRDs’ rights.


Tel: +256 (0)780123176
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @hrdBurundi

Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Centre (EHRDC)

The Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center (EHRDC) was established in December 2019, following extensive consultations and assessments by DefendDefenders. The creation of EHRDC was prompted by the opening of civic space in Ethiopia after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s election in 2018. Recognizing the need to address capacity gaps, strengthen networking, and rebuild solidarity among Ethiopian civil society organisations (CSOs), more than 60 HRDs and representatives of human rights organisations convened in Addis Ababa during DefendDefenders’ annual flagship event, Claiming Spaces: Tactical Tools for Human Rights Defenders.

During this forum, EHRDC was officially launched, aiming to provide support and safeguarding for HRDs in Ethiopia. With a membership exceeding 300 HRDs, EHRDC is involved in advocacy, capacity-building, and protection efforts.

EHRDC’s advocacy initiatives focus on promoting an understanding of HRDs’ roles and rights while championing their rights within Ethiopia.


Email: [email protected]

Defenders Coalition (National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya)

The Defenders Coalition Kenya (DCK) serves as the national coalition of HRDs in Kenya, established in 2007 as a national membership organization and registered under Kenyan law as a Trust. Its core mission is to champion the safety, security, and wellbeing of HRDs in the country. DCK is dedicated to protecting HRDs in Kenya by enhancing their capacities to work effectively and advocating for favorable legal, policy, and institutional environments to mitigate their vulnerability to persecution or harm.

Membership within the Coalition encompasses both individual Kenyan HRDs and organizations. DCK is engaged in various networks regionally and globally, including EHAHRD-Net, World in Action, and CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation. Additionally, the Defenders Coalition holds observer status with the African Commission.

At the regional level, the Defenders Coalition has fostered strategic partnerships with a wide range of civil society initiatives, movements, and actors.


Tel: +254 712 632 390
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: @DefendersKE

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Somalia (NCHRD-S)

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Somalia (NCHRD-S) emerged from DefendDefenders’ three-year implementation of an European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) project aimed at safeguarding and advancing human rights in Somalia.

On August 20, 2015, DefendDefenders facilitated the establishment of NCHRD-S in Hargesia, which was subsequently legally recognised as a trust in Mogadishu, Somalia. The coalition’s principal objective is to bolster the capacity of HRDs in Somalia, thereby mitigating their vulnerability to persecution. Central to this mission is advocating for a more conducive legal and policy environment within Somalia/Somaliland.

The inception of NCHRD-S was driven by discussions among HRDs who recognised the necessity of a coalition to effectively engage other defenders and respond promptly to human rights violations. CSOs solidified their commitment by signing a memorandum of understanding and devising a strategic action plan to guide their future endeavors.



Tel: +252 690 985 526
Email: [email protected]

South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)

The South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN) emerged in response to the severe human rights challenges prevailing in the country, including ongoing conflict, violence, and widespread violations. In 2012, a capacity-building workshop facilitated by Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), a South Sudanese CSO, brought together around 45 HRDs from various states of South Sudan where HRDs called for the establishment of a network under CEPO’s interim leadership to address these challenges and enhance their engagement with regional and international human rights mechanisms.

Officially launched during the annual claiming spaces event in December 2013, SSHRDN was subsequently registered as a non-governmental organization and relaunched in 2019 with its secretariat based in Juba, South Sudan. Since its inception, DefendDefenders has played a crucial role in providing technical expertise and support to empower the network, ensuring its independence and functionality.

SSHRDN has witnessed significant growth and plays a pivotal role in promoting and protecting human rights in South Sudan. The network engages in various activities including advocacy and lobbying, capacity-building, monitoring and documentation, and protection efforts.


Email: [email protected]

Tanzanian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)

The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) was established in 2010, following a gathering of fourteen CSOs where HRDs identified the necessity to unite and address the myriad challenges they faced in Tanzania. Recognizing that a unified platform could strengthen their work and tackle pertinent issues, the HRDs present agreed to form THRDC.

In 2011, DefendDefenders supported a subsequent meeting aimed at bolstering the emerging THRDC and deliberating its strategic direction. During this convening, members approved a constitution to govern the Coalition’s operations and signed a memorandum of understanding. Two years later, in 2012, THRDC officially evolved from this coalition, obtaining legal registration under Tanzanian law, enabling it to operate effectively.

The registration of THRDC marked the initiation of concerted efforts to safeguard and advance the rights of HRDs in Tanzania. Distinguished from other CSOs and networks, THRDC’s primary mission revolves around the protection and promotion of HRDs’ rights.


Tel: +255 769 642 208 (regular) or +255 713 088 135 (emergency)
Email: [email protected]

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda (NCHRD-U)

The National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders in Uganda (NCHRD-U) was founded on June 14, 2013, following a gathering convened by DefendDefenders with representatives from national CSOs. Over 50 HRDs from various regions of Uganda contributed to developing the Coalition’s vision, objectives, plan of action, and declaration, aimed at enhancing the protection and coordination of HRDs.

The formation of NCHRDU emphasized the importance of networking and collaboration for a unified and credible voice for defenders. Since its establishment, NCHRD-U has served as a vital platform for HRDs across Uganda, with its General Assembly meeting annually to assess progress.The establishment of grassroots HRD sub-networks has contributed to this growth, driven by the coalition’s commitment to grassroots engagement and relevance.

NCHRD-U plays a crucial role in clarifying the concept of HRDs and HRD work, empowering HRDs to understand, demand, and defend their fundamental rights while advocating for human rights at various levels. The coalition offers emergency support and protection to HRDs facing threats or attacks, including relocation support for those working far from home. Additionally, it coordinates members’ engagement with international and regional mechanisms, such as reporting to UN treaty bodies and the African Commission, and conducts annual assessments of the state of civic space in Uganda.


Tel: +256 (0)778 576 865; +256 (0)778 576 853; +256 (0)778 576 852
Email: [email protected] 
Facebook: @NCHRDs