The SouthernDefenders embodies an ironclad commitment to protecting human rights defenders (HRDs) in the face of attacks and shrinking civic space, both offline and online. It coordinates regional efforts to provide rapid, practical, comprehensive, and inclusive protection support to HRDs at high risk, defend civic space, and empower HRDs to mitigate the effects of repression. To this end, the SouthernDefenders contribute to the respect and recognition of HRDs as legitimate actors and agents of social change with universally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed rights.
SouthernDefenders is a registered non-profit organization in South Africa and is governed by a constitution which establishes a secretariat and a management committee composed of members largely drawn from Steering Committee members and representatives of vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities and under-represented communities. The SouthernDefenders has received the United States (US) Equivalence Determination Certification making it the equivalent of a public charity in the US.
The SouthernDefenders is working on building a sustainable operating model, anchored on a diversified funding base, creative programming, and partnerships with like-minded organizations in the region and beyond.
Resilience and capacity development
Effective, and holistic protection
Research, Advocacy, and Visibility
Safe but not silent
The SouthernDefenders is made up of the following organs:
- The general assembly;
- The management committee (SouthernDefenders Board);
- The management sub-committees and;
- The secretariat.
The SouthernDefenders Board is composed of the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson, the Treasurer, and four (4) other members elected from within members of the general assembly. The SouthernDefenders Board is not remunerated for sitting on the Board as it is a pro bono function.