Launch Day

On September 7th, Civil Rights Defenders were delighted to launch Innovation Challenge 2017, spurred out of our Human Rights Innovation Initiative.

To further support civil and political rights, the Human Rights Innovation Initiative advance new approaches, particularly leveraging digital possibilities. The purpose is to increase the security and impact of human rights defenders.

Innovation Legacy

Civil Rights Defenders has a history of innovating for human rights, introducing the Natalia Project. The Natalia Project is the world’s first alarm system for human rights defenders at risk. Along with an alarm device, Civil Rights Defenders provides comprehensive security reviews, trainings, and support, which are customised to the needs and circumstances of each participant in the project. Since the inception of the Natalia Project in 2013, over 100 human rights defenders have been added to the programme on four continents. It has proven to be an effective system for protecting human rights defenders at risk, and continues to grow.


Bolstered by the success of Natalia Project, the Human Rights Innovation Initiative was created to better tackle the challenge of the perils and opportunities of the modern world. The ambition is nothing less than to disrupt the traditional human rights space with key innovations.

Innovating for the partners

Civil Rights Defenders has over 200 partners globally. The partners are human rights defenders who, through their hard work, local knowledge, and dedication, understand the issues and their priority better than anyone else. The innovation approach enables Civil Rights Defenders to support partners with tailor-made solutions to the problems faced, resulting in increased security and greater impact, as such furthering human rights everywhere.

Innovation funding and incubation

To leverage the opportunities of the digital age Civil Rights Defenders have innovation funding available to fuel the entire innovation cycle. From idea stage, through iterations, to solution, and adoption. Soon the Human Rights Innovation Initiative will add an incubation programme to allow for external parties to receive mentoring and access, while developing solutions for Civil Rights Defenders and its partners. The incubation process will allow for new interactions between human rights and implementation specialists, leveraging the competencies of both for the benefit of all.

From here, we will start the journey together, focusing on your needs in our “Defender-Centric” model. You do not have to know the solution, simply understand the challenge. Together we will define the problem or opportunity, and how to approach it.

Purpose of the blog

Through sharing news, lessons learned and thoughts on the future of innovation within the human rights field, the blog will update you on our problem-solving journey in a transparent way. In that spirit the very next post will elaborate further on why we set up the Innovation Challenge 2017 the way we have.