The Defenders

Our work is motivated and defined by the stories and courage of 50+ human rights defenders from around the world. Representing a diverse array of cultures and ideas, these defenders and their activism encourage students to further engage with international human rights law, standards and advocacy and to realize how one person can truly make a difference. Our list of defenders is always growing, as we work to discover new stories that can inspire a generation to take action. 

We feature our Defenders in a variety of ways, whether it be through interviews from Kerry Kennedy's book Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders who are Changing Our World or teacher-developed lesson plans. Beginning with the story of a specific human rights defender, each of these lesson plans outlines a series of activities inspired by the defender's advocacy and designed to encourage students themselves to "Become a Defender." They are available in 7 different languages for students at all levels, ranging from elementary school to law school. In addition, they align with Common Core Learning Standards. 

The lesson plans are available below. 

Children's Rights
Abubacar Sultan
Peace
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Political Participation
Anonymous
Reconciliation
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Peace and Conflict Resolution
Betty Williams
Non-Violence
Carlos Phillipe Ximenes Belo
Genocide
Elie Wiesel
Sexual Violence
Erin Merryn
Political Participation / Women’s Rights / Indigenous Rights / Farmworkers’ Rights
Ethel Kennedy
LGBTQ Rights
Frank Mugisha
Disability Rights
Gábor Gombos
Forced Labor
Harry Wu
Freedom from Discrimination
Islamophobia
LGBTQ Rights and Bullying
Jamie Nabozny
Political Participation / Women’s Rights / Environmental Rights / Sustainable Investing / Business & Human Rights
Jimmy Carter
Protection from Landmines and Non-Violence
Jody Williams
Civil Rights, Political Participation and Non-Violence
John Lewis
Reconciliation
José Ramos-Horta
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND MODERN SLAVERY
Juliana Dogbadzi
CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY
Ka Hsaw Wa
CHILD LABOR AND CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
Kailash Satyarthi
Political Participation and Political Rights
Kek Galabru
Labor Rights and Farmworker Rights
Librada Paz
Health Care
Loune Viaud
Farmworkers' Rights
Lucas Benitez
PEACE
Mairead Maguire
GIRLS' EDUCATION
Malala Yousafzai
Domestic Violence
Marina Pisklakova
Political Participation
Mikhail Gorbachev
Freedom of Expression and Religion
Mohamed ElBaradei
Poverty
Muhammad Yunus
Apartheid and Racial Discrimination
Nelson Mandela
Freedom From Violence and Freedom of Expression
North Korea
Disarmament and Demilitarization
Oscar Arias Sánchez
Indigenous Rights
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
HUMAN RIGHTS
Robert F. Kennedy
Peace and Political Participation
Shimon Peres
Women's Rights
Shirin Ebadi
Freedom of Expression and Choice
Sonita Alizadeh
Joining the Women of Peace
Tawakkol Karman
Freedom of Expression and Religion
The Dalai Lama
Refugee Rights
The Refugee
Freedom of Expression
Václav Havel
Police Brutality
Van Jones
Women and the Environment
Wangari Maathai