About Us

Our Focus

Support for Defenders
The Human Rights Defenders Project believes that the most effective way to bring about positive, profound, and permanent change in Guatemala is by supporting human rights defenders and their vital work. This can best be achieved when defenders themselves define the type of accompaniment, advocacy, and solidarity that they need.

Communication & Education
The Human Rights Defenders Project informs, educates and mobilizes our partners to stand in effective solidarity with defenders. By denouncing the threats and attacks against defenders to an international audience we can help provide a measure of safety and protection for individuals at risk, their families, communities, and organizations. 

The Human Rights Defenders Project believes that solidarity can be mutually beneficial. The lives and struggles of Guatemalan human rights defenders can teach, inspire and motivate us all. The Human Rights Defenders Project encourages authentic connections and respectful relationships among all people who work day-to-day in creating a better world.

Our Work

Our vision of accompaniment is to provide political, moral, economic, and emotional support for human rights defenders at risk. Standing with defenders involves attending meetings, court cases, and other public events, as well as visiting with defenders when they are disheartened, sick, or imprisoned. Other actions of accompaniment include: denouncing abuses and violations of human rights, providing physical presence during moments of threats or intimidation, facilitating access to international protection mechanisms (ONU, CIDH, US Embassy, etc.), assisting with translations and communication, offering emergency financial support, contextual analysis, etc.

One of the most direct and powerful ways to learn about Guatemala and the invaluable work of defenders is by visiting the country and participating in a delegation. We offer an extensive list of itineraries that focus on women’s rights, land and the environment, freedom of expression, food security, the defense of indigenous identity, truth, memory and justice, etc. Our delegations are not just learning experiences, they seek to create real relationships with defenders, their communities, and their organizations. Our delegations are designed to open eyes, challenge minds, touch hearts, forge relationships, and change lives.

Website, Social Media, Email Campaigns
Our close working relationships with defenders, and our presence on the ground in the communities, provides us with first-hand knowledge of the dire situation facing defenders. Defenders are not voiceless but their messages are often not heard. Through constant communication with our partners around the world we share those urgent concerns and offer creative and effective ways to respond.

The Karen Brandow Defenders Support Fund
Karen was a life-long human rights activist with a profound love for the people of Guatemala. She passed away, at a young age, in 2014. This support fund, dedicated to her memory, will continue her legacy of standing with defenders in their moments of need. The fund provides emergency financial assistance for defenders to help cover such needs as transportation, lodging, legal aid, medical aid, family support, etc.

El Consejo de Defensores – The Defender’s Council
The Defenders Counsel is an advisory board composed of human rights defenders working in communities throughout Guatemala. They meet monthly to discuss, evaluate, and guide our work. Their guidance helps us to plan our work and to provide the best possible support for human rights defenders in Guatemala.