Digital Defenders Partnership

We offer support to human rights defenders under digital threat, and work to strengthen local rapid response networks.

Illustration of a hummingbird.

Our history

In 2011, several governments established the Freedom Online Coalition who, a year later, launched the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) Fund; an emergency grant mechanism towards digital activists under threat.


An open internet, free from threats to expression, association, assembly, privacy, and other fundamental rights, specifically in repressive and transitional environments.


To provide a holistic response to digital threats and create resilient and sustainable networks of support to human rights defenders.

To this end, DDP provides emergency response and sustainable protection funding, strengthens rapid responders and local protection networks, increases trainers’ capacities and contributes to long-term organisational safety through our Digital Protection Accompaniment.

The fast changing nature of digital threats requires us to stay flexible and offer a programme of support that responds to the needs of the field. We will place particular emphasis on:

  • Actors that collect, interpret, and make data available for the broader public (including artists, bloggers, journalists and their sources, election monitors, and those monitoring internet shutdowns).
  • Environmental, indigenous, and land rights defenders.
  • LGTBQIA+ communities and those who promote and defend their rights.
  • Women and gender rights defenders and groups.

Our principles

Human Rights

Working with donors, partners, consultants and grantees committed to universal Human Rights.


For us, the well-being, autonomy, empowerment and dignity of the people we work for and with are of the utmost importance. In all our activities and engagements, we want to create safe and respectful spaces where people can engage the personal and the political, and feel safe and empowered in doing this.


We understand that our programmes are not neutral in the contexts within which they are implemented, which are invariably characterised by injustice and conflict in various forms. We aim to prevent or limit unintended negative outcomes through context analyses and programme impact analyses, and promote unity, reconciliation and justice.


We are committed to a feminist and intersectional approach as the epistemological basis for our analyses and the development of our programmes. Our approach to digital security and the overall protection of human rights defenders is developed through a lens which seeks to make visible the various layers of structural and discursive discrimination based on gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race identity, ethnicity, geography, language, culture, religion, caste, socioeconomic status, employment, age, dis/ability, and neuro(a)typicality, among other things.


We believe in the importance of diversity and inclusivity, in our networks, teams, ideas and approaches. We work in a way that fosters non-discrimination, free expression, participation and equity.


We have a strong commitment towards fostering solidarity, connection, cooperation and a sense of community in our convening spaces. We understand that epistemic violence and injustice are often barriers to true collaboration. We value different knowledges, aim to decentre dominant discourses, and encourage the inclusion of marginal modes of knowledge production and consumption.


We are committed to transparency and accountability in all projects, outcomes, and decision making processes. We will document and share useful information with others, and strive to establish fair and just processes in all relationships with donors, partners, grantees, consultants and other stakeholders.


We commit to handling all incoming information responsibly, and protect it against inadvertent disclosure to unauthorised parties. Any remote coordination or online initiatives will happen through secure channels that run on free and open source software, and commercial or proprietary tools will be avoided as much as possible, especially if they have a history of violating users’ privacy.


We value curiosity, innovation, and adventurousness, and welcome reflective learning across our individual and collective work.

Not claiming but facilitating

Encouraging individuals, organisations and networks to have and take ownership of their own interventions and activities.

2020 – 2023 Strategy

This document is the result of a collaborative engagement with a number of partner organisations. It sets out our analysis of the context in which we are working, the changes we are making in our programme in order to ensure our work is as effective as possible in these challenging circumstances, our theory of change, and our planned areas of work and priorities for the coming four years.

Incident Emergency Response

Provide timely, flexible and holistic emergency response resources to reduce the impact or risk of digital attacks against human rights defenders.

Sustainable Protection Support

Strengthen awareness and capacities for building sustainable and effective responses to digital threats among human rights defenders at risk.

Facilitation and Community Building

Develop and maintain accessible, collaborative, resilient and responsive networks of expertise and support for human rights defenders under digital threat.


DDP operates in a manner that is independent from its donors and is managed by Hivos, a non-profit organisation headquartered in the Netherlands that provides funding and implements programmes to innovate for social change worldwide.

From 2012 to 2022, DDP received its funding from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; along with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the United States Department of State.