PBI Founding Meeting
Building on a ‘rich and extensive heritage of nonviolent action’, and with the goal of creating an 'international organisation committed to unarmed third party invtervention in conflict situations', Peace Brigades International is founded during an inaugural meeting on Grindstone Island, Canada.Read more about the founding of PBI
Guatemala: General Efrain Rios Montt seizes power following a military coup
General Efrain Rios Montt annuls the 1965 constitution, dissolves Congress and suspends political parties in Guatemala. Local ‘civilian defense patrols’ are deployed alongside the military throughout the country to ‘reclaim’ guerrilla territory.
PBI Deploys First Team in Nicaragua
Amidst an escalation of violence, PBI deploys 10 volunteers to Jalapa, Nicaragua, near the Honduran border, interposing themselves between US-backed contras and Sandinista forces in order to deter hostilities. This work was eventually taken over and continued by Witness for Peace.Read about JoLeigh Commandant, who participated in the peace vigil along the ...
PBI Opens Project in Guatemala
Read more about PBI's history in Guatemala
PBI installed its first team in Guatemala during a period of intense state terror and repression. PBI’s work quickly focused on protecting victims and nascent nonviolent organisations confronting government violence.
Guatemala: Peace talks begin
Peace talks between the government and rebels of the Guatemalan Revolutionary National Unity begin; right-wing parties win a majority in legislative elections.
PBI Pioneers Protective Accompaniment Model
PBI pioneers international protective accompaniment with leaders and activists of the Mutual Support Group for Families of the Disappeared (GAM), some of whose leaders had been brutally assassinated by State agents. The remaining leaders had been threatened.Read more about GAM's history
PBI Begins Presence in El Salvador
At the invitation of Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez, PBI began working in El Salvador. Most of the work consisted of providing international protective accompaniment to threatened popular organsations and regular visits to villages of returned refugees.
While the team's work was interrupted in 1989 due to harassment by the Armed Forces, it was able to re-deploy in 1990 with the strong backing of the international community, including members of Parliament and Congress from Switzerland, Canada, Spain, the United States, Italy, Sweden, France and Germany as well as religious communities, international organizations, and labor unions.Read about PBI's work in El Salvador from 1987-1990
PBI deploys a team to Sri Lanka
A team was installed in Sri Lanka during some of the worst violence between government forces and the People’s Liberation Front (JVP). PBI accompanied lawyers working on behalf of disappeared people and their families, religious leaders threatened due to their reconciliation work, and grassroots movements.
Fall of the Berlin Wall
PBI Begins Project in North America
PBI opens a project in North America to respond to conflicts in and around indigenous communities following confrontations between Mohawk warriors and the Canadian Army near Montreal, Quebec. The project's work involved supporting dialogue and reconciliation, training local human rights monitors, and carrying out anti-racist education in Canada.
Read more about Penashue's work and life in her memoire, Nitinikiau Innusi: I...
European Union forms under the Maastricht Treaty
Peace Agreements Signed in El Salvador
Following the signing of the Peace accords in 1992, PBI's work in El Salvador was no longer necessary and so the project was closed.
PBI Joins "Cry for Justice" Coalition in Haiti
In response to increasing military violence in Haiti after the 1991 coup, PBI joins the "Cry for Justice" Coalition, led by Pax Christi USA, and including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Christian Peacemaker Teams and a dozen other organisations. 75 international volunteers were deployed to Haiti in late 1993 to provide a short-term peaceful presence in six different towns suffering from high levels of violence.
From 1995 with the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristade, a PBI team offered training in nonviolent conflict resolution with the aim of establishing a network of Haitian trainers to continue the work in a country devastated by years of tyranny and military rule.
PBI Opens Project in Colombia
After receiving requests from civil society organizations, in particular Father Javier Giraldo of the organization Justicia y Paz, and following an exploratory mission in 1993, PBI opened a project in Colombia. Initially, offices were opened in Bogota and Barrancabermeja.Read about the exploratory work that led to the opening of PBI Colombia
Balkan Peace Team Coalition Formed
PBI joined the Balkan Peace Team International, a coalition of mostly European organisations that set up teams in Croatia, Servia and Kosovo to provide support to local human rights and nonviolence efforts, foster dialogue among civilian groups and link local peace organisations working in different part of former Yugoslavia.Learn more about the work of the Balkan Peace Team
PBI joins SiPaz, a coalition of over 40 international organizations set up in 1995 in response to growing violence following the Zapatista uprising in 1994 in Chiapas, Mexico. The coalition disseminates information on the conflict situation, provides accompaniment to local activists, and organises peace education workshops to strengthen the capacity of local organisations.
This work is continued today by the International Service for Peace (SiPaz).Find out about the ongoing work of SiPaz
Political Instability and Violence in Colombia
1996 was a year of political instability and increased risk and criminalization for HRDs in Colombia. PBI accompaniment helped ensure that lawyers from the Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CCAJAR) could continue their work in Colombia despite the high level of risk.Find out more about PBI's accompaniment to CCAJAR
Founding of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in the Urabá Antioqueño region of Colombia was founded in 1997 in the midst of armed violence, forced displacement, and the murder of its leaders. Although stigmatization, threats and defamation continue to this day, the Peace Community has managed to establish a certain deterrence against armed actors thanks to the recognition of its project at the international level. The peace community continues to be an inspiring alternative model of community life to this day.
PBI has accompanied the peace community since 1999.Read more about the peace community
Sri Lanka Project Closes Following Demands for Censorship
PBI was told that if it wished to continue working in Sri Lanka it would have to submit its reports to the authorities to be censored prior to their publication. This demand was not compatible with PBI’s mission, so the project was closed.Read about George Lakey’s time as a PBI volunteer in Sri Lanka
PBI Opens Project in Mexico
Following the worsening of the human rights situation in the country and requests from local civil society organisations, PBI opens a project in Mexico.
Learn more about PBI's work in Mexico:
The Barrancabermeja Massacre
On 16 May, 1998, paramilitaries murdered seven local inhabitants and disappeared another 25 people who had been taking part in a community fundraising event in Barrancabermeja (Santander).
PBI accompanies José Albaer Restrepo of the Lawyer's Collective Corporation (CCAJAR), who represents the victims and their families, many of whom are still seeking justice.Read more about the Barrancabermeja Massacre and the work of CCAJAR
Guatemalan Peace Accords and Closure of PBI Guatemala
The Guatemalan Peace Accords were signed in 1996, ending more than 30 years of civil war. Following the signing of the Peace Accords and a subsequent reduction in the number of human rights violations and accompaniment requests, PBI decided to close it's project in Guatemala in 1999.
PBI Expands Presence in Colombia
Following an increase in attacks on human rights organisations in the region, PBI opened a new office in Medellin, Colombia, to accompany the Association of Family Members of the Detained Disappeared (ASFADDES), the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), the Grassroots Training Institute (IPC), and the Corporation for Legal Freedom (CLB).Read more about PBI's work in Medellin from 1999-2011
PBI Opens Project in Indonesia
Following invitations by local humanitarian and non-governmental organisations, PBI opened its first team in South-East Asia, in West Timor, Indonesia. PBI teams in Jakarta, Aceh, and in Wamena and Jayapura, Papua accompanied local human rights organisations and along with local partners carried out peace education workshops to build capacity for conflict transfomation among local leaders, students, NGOs, officials and faith groups.Read more about PBI's work in Indonesia 1999-2011
PBI Begins Accompaniment in Guerrero, Mexico
PBI focused it's initial accompaniment efforts in the State of Guerrero, where there was little international attention despite widespread human rights violations. One of the early accompanied organisations in Guerrero was the 'Tlachinollan' Human Rights Centre, which documents human rights violations, and carries out advocacy, outreach, education and strategic litigation of human rights cases."PBI arrived in Guerrero at a critical moment of State violence”
PBI Commemorates 20th Anniversary
In October 2001, PBI brought together over 90 speakers, facilitators activists and interpreters to reflect on its approach and the challenges facing the human rights movement and civil society organizations working to promote peace and nonviolence in areas of conflict.Read excerpts from presentations at PBI's 20th anniversary conference
PBI Receives Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
In 2001, PBI was the first organisation to be awarded the Martin Ennals prize. The Foundation described PBI volunteers as the "embodiment of the expression of international concern and support for human rights defenders on the front line."Read more about the Martin Ennals Award
Accompaniment in the Face of Urban Violence in Colombia
The early 2000s saw a rise in urban violence in Colombia, despite peace negotiations between the government and the FARC-EP. Hundreds of civilians were injured, killed and disappeared during armed clashes between the FARC-EP and the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (UAC) and between other legal and illegal armed groups, as well the millitary.
In this video, Adriana Arboleda of the Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL), speaks about PBI's accompaniment at a time when they were the only organization documenting cases in Comuna 13.Read more about the work of CJL
PBI Guatemala Reopens
Following a deterioration of the human rights situation, PBI once again began receiving accompaniment requests from Guatemalan civil society. An exploration was carried out in 2001 and a team re-opened in 2003.Listen to the Democracy Now! interview about PBI's work in Guatemala
PBI Begins Accompaniment to the AFADEM in Mexico
In 2003, PBI began accompanying Tita Radilla, vice-president of the Mexican Association of Relatives of the Detained, Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations (AFADEM), who's father, Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, had been forcibly disappeared in Atoyac, Guerrero in 1974. Tita and other family members faced attacks and threats due to their work seeking justice for their loved ones.Learn more about PBI's accompaniment to the AFADEM
The massacre that changed the Peace Community forever
On 21 February 2005, eight people from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, in north-west Colombia, were massacred, including three young children and community leader Luis Eduardo Guerra.
Doña Brigida, one of the founding members of the Peace Community, remembers this tragedy.Read more about the San José de Apartadó Peace Community
PBI Opens Project in Nepal
Following requests from Nepalese human rights organisations due to conflicts between Maoist insurgents and the government, in 2006 PBI launched a project in Nepal. An initial team of 5 volunteers was based in Kathmandu and provided protective accompaniment to local human rights organisations.Read more about PBI's work in Nepal from 2006-2013
PBI EU Office Becomes Protection International (PI)
In 2007, Protection International is registered as an international not for profit association by Pascale Boosten, Marie Caraj, Enrique Eguren and Christoph Klotz. PI becomes the legal successor of the former EU Office of Peace Brigades International.Find out more about the work of Protection International
Post-electoral Crisis in Kenya
Political, economic, and humanitarian crisis erupted in Kenya after former President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007. More than 1,100 people were killed, and up to 500,000 displaced, according to Human Rights Watch.'Ballots to Bullets Organized Political Violence and Kenya's Crisis of Govern...
PBI Opens Team in Oaxaca Following Social Conflict
Following the violent eviction of a sit-in by members of a teachers union from the centre of Oaxaca City, social conflict broke out in Oaxaca. Between 2006-2007, numerous human rights violations were documented by civil society organisations, including arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial execution and enforced disappearance.
PBI participated in two civil observation missions to Oaxaca during the conflict, and in 2008 opened a permanent team in the state.Read about the opening of PBI's team in Oaxaca
Indigenous Leaders Murdered in Guerrero
In February 2009, two indigenous leaders of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM) were forcably detained during a public act at which local authorities were present. 10 days later, their bodies were disovered with visible signs of torture. PBI accompanied their lawyers, from the 'Tlachinollan' Human Rights Centre, due to the increase in threats and harassment they received following the assasinations.Read about the situation facing HRDs in southern Mexico
Mexico Before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights rules in favor of Tita Radilla, Ines Fernandez Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantu, in three historic cases involving abuses committed by the armed forces, opening the door to key reforms to the military justice code demanded by victims and human rights organisations.
PBI accompanied Tita, Ines and Valentina, as well as other members of the AFADEM and OPIM in the run up to the ruling and during their demands for implementation of the respective sentences.Read 'Mexico Before the Inter-American Court'
'We Are Not Giving Up'
Two years after the Constituent Assembly Elections and four years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Maoists and ther political parties in Nepal, the human rights situation in the country remains a challenge.
In the short film 'We Are Not Giving Up', Nepali HRDs speak out about human rights abuses and what needs to change to move the country forward.
PBI Commemorates 30th Anniversary
In 2011, PBI marked its 30th anniversary with a series of conferences and events organized in Germany, Spanish State, Switzerland and the UK which brought together human rights defenders, activists, decision-makers, academics, UN officials and members of the public. Topics ranged from criminalization of HRDs; to the risk of defending land and environmental rights - coinciding with the creation of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights; to critically evaluating existing protection frameworks, such as the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and the Un Declaration on Human Rights.Read more about PBI's 30th anniversary in our 2011 annual review
PBI Explores Protection Needs of HRDs in Africa
Following receipt of a number of requests for PBI presence from African countries, in 2009 PBI formed a working group to evaluate the diverse protection needs of HRDs in Africa and the potential for PBI's model to be effective in supporting their protection.
Kenya was eventually selected for more in-depth field exploration, and the Kenya Project Exploratory Committee established in 2011.
Towards a Protection Mechanism for HRDs and Journalists in Mexico
In June 2011, following years of demands by Mexican and international civil society, the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists was approved by the Mexican legislature and signed by then-President Felipe Calderon. The law was championed by the Civil Society Space for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists (Espacio OSC), accompanied by PBI.
Watch the video 'The Duty to Protect', about the need for a protection mechanism for HRDs and journalists in Mexico.
PBI Opens Project in Kenya
PBI opened a project in Kenya in 2013, following extensive field and desk-based research into the human rights situation in the country and the needs of defenders. The project provides capacity development and accompaniment to HRDs working in Nairobi's urban settlements as well as organizations carrying out electoral monitoring, working to end gender based violence, and those working for police reform, among other issues.Find out more about our work in Kenya
PBI Opens Project in Honduras
Following the coup d'état that took place in Honduras in 2009 and a worsening of the human rights situation, PBI received requests for international accompaniment from the Honduras Platform on Human Rights. In 2011 and 2012, exploratory visits were carried out to the country to asses the situation and meet with local HRDs.
PBI formally opened a project in Honduras following the 2013 election, which was marked by a deterioration in the human rights situation in the country and the killing of HRDs.Read the report on PBI's exploratory missions to Honduras
COCAP and PBI launch the Nepal Monitor Project
In 2013, PBI together with the Collective Campaign for Peace Network (COCAP) launched the Nepal Monitor Project. Its mission is to work with and for civil society activists and HRDs to increase their protection and maintain or expand the political space available for their work in favour of peace and human rights in Nepal.
The human rights and security incident reports mapped on the site are distributed via e-mail and text message alerts to the members of a network of over 200 Human Rights organizations and individuals across Nepal, who are nearest to the incidents.Learn more about the work of nepalmonitor.org
PBI Opens Office in Northern Mexico
Following requests from civil society and an exploratory mission carried out to diverse regions in Mexico, PBI opened an office in the northern part of the country, and expanded it's accompaniment to HRDs in the states of Coahuila and Chihuahua.Read 'A Panorama of the Defense of Human Rights in Mexico'
Guatemala: Ríos Montt Convicted of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
Former general and de facto President of Guatemala from 1982-1983, Jose Efrain Rios Montt was convicted in January 2013 of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 80 years in prison. While his conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, a retrail took place in 2015 after a Guatemalan court ruled he could stand trail.Read a letter of concern written by PBI Guatemala prior to the initiation of ...
Operation Genesis vs. Colombia
In December 2013, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Colombian State guilty of the mass forced displacement of afro-descendent communities resulting from 'Operation Black September' and 'Operation Genesis'. More than 70 people were also murdered or disappeared during the subsequent militarization of the Lower Atrato.
PBI accompanied lawyers from the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, who brought the case to the Inter-American Court.
Read more about the consequences of 'Operation Genesis'
PBI Returns to Indonesia
Following discussions with civil society organizations and other stakeholders, once again began working in Indonesia in 2014, in partnership with the Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).
The current project promotes human rights in Indonesia by providing capacity development to Human Rights Defenders in remote areas, with a focus on their ability to document human rights abuses, advocate to the Indonesian government and internationally, and build their personal security and protection networks.Read more about PBI's current work in Indonesia
30 Years of Accompaniment in Guatemala
In 2014, PBI conmemorated thirty years of accompaniment in Guatemala.
Watch the video about PBI's work , which is dedicated to the human rights defenders we have accompanied over the last three decades.
PBI Marks 10 Years of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders
In 2014, PBI marked 10 years of implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). Built on the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Guidelines were created in 2004 to recognize the specific risks faced by HRDs and the role of EU bodies, Member States and Missions to protect, support, and reinforce the work of HRDs in third countries. PBI had long advocated for the EU to take stronger action to protect and support at-risk HRDs.
In this video, EU representatives and HRDs reflect on the implementation of the guidelines 10 years on.
Read 'Ten Years of the EU Guidelines on HRDs: An Assessment from the Field
Disappearance of 43 Students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico
On September 26, 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College were forcibly abducted and disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, in southern Mexico. PBI accompanies the 'Tlachinollan' Human Rights Centre, who provide legal support to the family members of the disappeared students.
Watch the video produced by PBI Mexico which recounts the events that took place on 26 Septmeber, 2015.Read the report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) ...
Signature of the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance
Berta Cáceres killed
Berta Cáceres Flores was a Honduran environmental activist, indigenous leader, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, for "a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam" at the Río Gualcarque. She was assassinated in her home by armed intruders in 2016, after years of threats against her life.
In the wake of Berta's killing in 2016, PBI began accompanying the coordinators of COPINH due to the ongoing risks they face in their search for justice for Berta and to uphold the rights of the Lenca people.More information about PBI's accompaniment to COPINH
Launch of WHRDs Toolkit
In 2016, PBI Kenya developed a Women Human Rights Defenders Toolkit which offers resources and recommendations to help address the specific challenges of grassroots Women HRDs. A network of grassroots WHRDs from three of Nairobi’s urban settlements (Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru) work as toolkit organizers to help disseminate and further develop the toolkit.
Watch The Stand Against Sexual Violence in Kenya, about the work of the WHRDs toolkit organizers.
Social Conflict in Nicaragua
In April 2018, spontaneous social protests broke out in Nicaragua in response to unpopular reforms to the university and social security systems. These took place against the backdrop of prior electoral irregularities and a number of constitutional and legal reforms that increasingly concentrated political power in the hands of the executive - particularly Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President, Rosario Murillo.
Hundreds of people were injured, killed and arbitrarily detained during the protests. A subsequent report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) for Nicaragua concludes that the State's response was disproportionate and that it committed serious and systematic human rights abuses in its response to the protests.
Colombian Peace Process
Following years of negotiation that began in 2012, the Colombian government and the FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, ending the decades old armed conflict that took the lives of thousands of Colombian civilians and resulted in large scale internal displacement, disappearances and other human rights violations.
PBI Spoke to Fabian Laverde, of the Social Corporation for Community Advice and Training (COSPACC) about the role of victims in the peace process and the work still left to be done.Read 'The Role of Victims in the Peace Processes'
Enhancing support for Exiled Human Rights Defenders in Kenya
Following a number of requests from exiled HRDs in the region, and recognizing the multitude of challenges they faced, PBI Kenya undertook a series of workshops to consider mechanisms through which international organizations and institutions could better support them.Read the report: Enhancing Support for Exiled HRDs in Nairobi
20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
To mark the 40th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, PBI brought together HRDs from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia to exchange experiences and knowledge about holistic protection. This meeting allowed us to analyse global tendencies and identify the common risks faced by and needs of human rights defenders.
HRDs also had the opportunity to participate in a round table with representatives of EU member states and other decision makers about how they can better uphold the right to defend human rights.
Indigenous defender Bernardo Caal Xol sentences to 7 years in prison
In November 2018, indigenous land and environmental defender Bernardo Caal Xol was sentenced to seven years four months in prison for the crimes of illegal detention and aggravated robbery. This, despite evidence provided by his lawyers throughout the judicial process that Caal Xol was not in the location of the crime at the time it was committed.
PBI has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon since 2017.
International Office moves to Brussels
PBI Launches Project in Support of Exiled Nicaraguan HRDs
Following the political crisis in Nicaragua in 2018, PBI began an accompaniment project for Nicaraguan organisations and civil society groups living in exile in Costa Rica. The project provides capacity development for exiled HRDs, from psychosocial support to organizational strengthening and security and protection strategies, focusing on improving their conditions and building resilience for an eventual return to Nicaragua.Learn more about PBI's work with Nicaraguan HRDs
Universal Periodic Review Honduras
In preparation for the Universal Periodic Review of Honduras in 2020, PBI prepared a report on the situation for human rights defenders in the country and lays out recommendations for the Honduran State on issues ranging from the recognition of the important role played by HRDs to the implementation of prompt, diligent and impartial investigations in cases of attacks committed against them.
The report was included in the summary of stakeholders' information and several of the reccomendations echoed in the conclusions and recommendations made by States, which Honduras must consider and respond to.
Watch the video Recomendaciones EPU para la protección de la comunidad LGTBIQ+ from PBI Honduras on Vimeo.Read 'Defending the Land has a Woman's Name'
Escazú Agreement Enters into Force
Entering into force on Earth Day, 2021, the Escazú Agreement regarding access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters is a groundbreaking treaty between Latin America and Caribbean countries. It is the first human rights treaty that protects and prioritizes people's rights to information, participation, justice and security in environmental matters, based on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The first of its kind, the treaty seeks to provide access to environmental justice and provide protection to those defending land and environmental rights in the region. If implemented correctly, it may prove to be a crucial tool for climate and environmental protection in the coming years.
Watch the video from Amnesty International on the importance of the Escazú Agreement and what it could mean for human rights defenders in the region.Read 'The Escazú Agreement, a necessary tool for the fight against climate ch...
Mexican Protection Mechanism for HRDs and Journalists 10 Years On
Despite the existence of a governmental protection mechanism for HRDs and journalists, these populations continue to face high levels of risk in Mexico. Civil society has repeatedly called on the Mexican government to implement holistic protection policies which address the root causes that generate risk, and to improve resourcing and coordination of the mechanism.
Watch the video 'ProtecciónYa: El mecanismo de protección para personas defensoras y periodistas es insuficiente'.Read 'Turning the Tide on Impunity: Protection and Access to Justice for Jour...