Home » Celebrating Courage: Empowering Human Rights Defenders – IHRDD 2023

Celebrating Courage: Empowering Human Rights Defenders – IHRDD 2023

December 7, 2023      

The observance of International Human Rights Defenders Day on the 9th of December stands as a pivotal reminder of the indispensable role played by Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in safeguarding and advancing human rights globally. Recognizing their significance, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders emphasizes the responsibility of States to support and protect these champions of human rights. In line with this, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda, in collaboration with Defender Defenders, orchestrated a two-day series of events to commemorate this significant day. The commemoration took place in Eastern Uganda and aimed to provide a platform for HRDs and stakeholders to engage in critical discussions, reflection, and strategizing on pertinent human rights issues in 2023.

Objective of the Commemoration

The primary goal of the commemoration was to facilitate meaningful engagement between HRDs and duty bearers, fostering dialogue on prevalent human rights issues while strategizing for the continued protection and advancement of HRDs’ legitimate work in Uganda. It also sought to shed light on the existing civic space for grassroots HRDs, delving into their current concerns and challenges. Under the overarching theme, “Reinforcing the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Defenders and Their Work,” the event aimed to amplify the significance of safeguarding HRDs and their invaluable contributions to society.

Event Activities and Highlights

Day 1 – 7th December

The inaugural day commenced at the Busoga Square grounds at 7:00 am, initiating the celebrations with a human rights walk. The day featured an array of activities, including a medical camp, exhibitions by HRDs, blood donation drives, and a symbolic tree-planting ceremony. Transport was arranged to facilitate the participation of over 160 HRDs from various regions across Uganda. The schedule adhered to a strict timeline, ensuring the smooth progression of activities from morning until 3:00 pm.

Day 2 – 8th December

Continuing the momentum, the second day unfolded at the Source of the Nile hotel in Jinja City, commencing at 8:30 am and concluding at 4:00 pm. The day was dedicated to acknowledging and honoring outstanding HRDs of 2023. The culmination was marked by a prestigious cocktail dinner held at the Jinja Sailing Club, providing a fitting tribute to the remarkable efforts and sacrifices of HRDs. Punctuality was encouraged to maintain the schedule and ensure the seamless flow of the day’s events.


The commemoration of International Human Rights Defenders Day 2023 served as an instrumental platform for meaningful dialogue, recognition, and solidarity among HRDs and stakeholders. The activities underscored the critical need to fortify the protection and support mechanisms for HRDs while celebrating their unwavering commitment to advancing human rights in Uganda. The event’s success was a testament to the collective determination to champion the cause of human rights defenders and their indispensable role in shaping a more just and equitable society.