The Declaration defines a human rights defender as anyone working for the promotion and protection of human rights. This broad definition encompasses professional as well as non-professional human rights workers, volunteers, journalists, lawyers and anyone else carrying out, even on an occasional basis, a human rights activity.
The Declaration articulates existing human rights in a way that makes it easier to apply them to the situation of human rights defenders. It specifies how the rights contained in the major human rights instruments, including the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, apply to defenders. It also outlines the specific duties of States and the responsibility of everyone with regard to defending human rights.
The rights protected under the Declaration include:
the right to be protected;
the right to freedom of assembly, and of association;
the right to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and to advocate for their acceptance;
the right to criticise government bodies and agencies and to make proposals to improve their functioning;
the right to provide legal assistance or other advice and assistance in defence of human rights;
the right to unhindered access to and communication with non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations, and international bodies;
the right to access resources for the purpose of protecting human rights, including the receipt of funds from abroad.