Awards and fellowships

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One way to ensure the safety of human rights defenders is to provide visible recognition to their work through the use of appropriate publicity. Awards can bring public recognition and legitimacy to the work of WHRDs and also provide protection by raising their profiles in the media. Monetary and in-kind prizes associated with these awards can also help the WHRD to access other temporary support, such as support for relocation or legal fees.

There are several awards that are given to defenders who have made a contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights and who face risks as a consequence of their work. Although not specific to WHRDs, many of these awards have been given to women:

  1. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
  2. The Annual Front Line Award
  3. The Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty
  4. The Tulip Award
  5. The John Humphrey Award
  6. The Yayori Award
  7. The International Service for Human Rights Award


Fellowships programs provide defenders with the possibility of taking leave from their regular work to pursue projects that will contribute to their protection and enhance their capacity to continue their work in defense of human rights. Fellowships can take place inside or outside a defender’s country. When WHRDs are placed outside their home country, the organizations providing fellowships facilitate the application of visas, but may need other organizations in receiving countries to assist with the logistics of accommodation, setting up meetings, arranging courses, etc.

Fellowships programs can include scholarship to a formal degree, or cover non-degrees schemes, such as taking a course or concluding research. They also support internships with other organizations, participation in conferences, or trauma counselling. Here are some examples:

Sponsorship programs

Sponsorship programs connect defenders with prominent public figures to provide them with protection and to raise awareness about the condition in which defenders work.

To learn more about awards, fellowships and sponsorship programs, please see the Urgent Responses Mapping, pages 5-6 and 16-17.

List of Organizations

The following is a list of organizations sorted by region that offer awards, fellowships, and sponsorship programs.