Shelter City fellowship programme

Fellowship programme for human rights defenders

Since 2017, the T.M.C. Asser Instituut yearly welcomes one human rights defender within the framework of Shelter City, a project initiated by Justice and Peace Netherlands that provides temporary relocation and training to legal practitioners who fight against human rights violations in their home countries. In the context of the visiting research fellowship programme of the Asser Institute, Shelter City fellows will carry out a research project during a research stay (three months). Shelter City fellows will carry out research in the fields of human rights, international law or European law. In addition to researching the situation in their home countries, human rights defenders will be part of the Asser research community and contribute to the Institute’s research by taking part in one of the three research strands. They will also share the conclusions of their research with a wider public during lectures.

Structural contribution to development of international law

"By providing our knowledge and expertise, we hope to make a concrete and structural contribution to the development of expertise on international and European human rights law and to the circumstances of Human Rights Defenders while they stay at our institute. Thanks to our cooperation with Justice and Peace we are able to do this," said Janne Nijman, the former academic director of the Asser Institute. "We are grateful for this collaboration with Shelter City; we greatly value the knowledge and insights brought by the Shelter City researchers and human rights defenders to our institute." 

Protection of human rights defenders

Shelter City is a Justice and Peace initiative in collaboration with a growing number of Dutch cities and local organisations. Human rights defenders who are threatened in their own countries are eligible for a three-month stay in one of the Shelter Cities, including The Hague. During this period, they can continue their work in a safe environment and have a respiratory pause while at the same time expanding their network and following training. “For the human rights defenders that we work with, this fellowship programme can be of great significance”, says Sebastiaan van der Zwaan, Director of Justice and Peace Netherlands. “Not only do they enhance their research abilities and international network, but they can also apply the acquired knowledge and insights into their human rights work.”