Call for Nominations SouthernDefenders’ Award


Relevent Country: Zimbabwe

The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SouthernDefenders) calls for nomination/s for the SouthernDefenders Award for outstanding Human Rights Defender/s.

The situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) across causes and countries in Southern Africa remains precarious as they continue to face harassment, intimidation, physical violence, extra-judicial killings cyberbullying, and legal restrictions on their legitimate work. Several countries in the region have been criticized for restricting freedoms of expression, association and assembly, which can make it difficult for HRDs to exercise their right to defend human rights (RDHR) and hold those in power to account.

The 2023 CIVICUS Monitor report noted that in Southern Africa, the authorities in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have proposed or enacted restrictive laws on civil society organizations (CSOs), raising fears of increasing restrictions on freedom of association. In Angola, the Law on State Security is a repressive legal instrument that has been used to criminalize dissent and criticism of the government.

Despite all these violations, HRDs and social justice activists continue fighting to protect and promote human rights and basic freedoms in such hostile conditions at great personal risk. The Award seeks to increase the visibility of HRDs because, despite the important work they do, they very often are not well known. This year marks the 6th anniversary of the award.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominations of individuals or organisations working outside the Southern Africa geographic area will not be considered.
  • Nominations can be submitted by organisations or individuals.
  • Nominations can be made in English, French and Portuguese.
  • Individual or organizational nominees may not play a prominent role in a political party.
  • Nominees should be active human rights defenders.
  • No person or organization may nominate themselves.
  • All nominations must be accompanied by 2 referees. These must include the following details of the referees: Full Name, title and occupation, telephone numbers, email address and relationship to the nominee.

Selection Process


  • Individuals or organisations from Southern Africa can nominate candidates for the 2023 SouthernDefenders HRD Award/s. HRDs are people who promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.  These include but are not limited to civil and political rights, economic-social and cultural rights, artistic freedoms, indigenous rights, environmental rights.


  • A panel of eminent individuals in the human rights sector from various countries within the sub-region will shortlist two individuals within the set-out guidelines for shortlisting candidates.


  • The panel verifies the HRDs human rights work through interviews with the nominators, the nominees and their references.
  • Selection
  • The selection panel will decide who will receive the award/s based on the profiles of the nominated HRDs. The selection of a candidate is final.

Award ceremony

  • The award ceremony will be held in Windoek, Namibia at the end of November 2023, in the presence of CSOs, Human Rights Commissions, the Government, selected HRDs, representatives from the international missions, and the media who will cover the event.