The GHK Consulting Ltd was commissioned by the European Commission to undertake the study in May 2011, and the final 145 pages report written by senior human rights expert Nicolaj Sønderbye is now made available to the public.
The most structured exisisting city shelter initiative and network in the EU today is ICORN, which was founded in 2006 and has since grown steadily to 40 host cities today, each offering shelters to writers at risk (broadly defined). Currently, there are ICORN cities in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK as well as in many cities outside the EU (the report reads on page 14).
Based on the key findings and conclusions, the study interestingly concludes by recommending the establishment of a stable structure, such as an EU Human Rights Defenders platform/coordination entity and/or programme. The study suggests that such a platform or programme could provide an added value in terms of i) improving synergies among existing and future programmes run by NGOs, universities and their partnerships; ii) ways in which teh EU might contribtue to overcoming identified constraints on the actors running such programmes; and iii) the feasibility of setting up a structure and network of local cities and NGOs to ensure a stable and coordinated response by the EU to the need to temporarily shelter for Human Rights Defenders at risk, whether in a EU member state or outside the EU.