Governance & Security

Business pursues legal action against human rights defenders that would limit public participation and debate over business practices or plans


In many countries, companies suffering from the glare of unwanted attention for human rights abuses may strike back at human rights advocates and defenders. A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. In some contexts, SLAPP is accompanied by criminal defamation charges. Environmental, human rights and public health advocates are amongst those most at risk of oppression and intimidation, including through SLAPP.


SLAPP undermines the rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Articles 19, 20
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Articles 19, 21, 22

SDG 16


SDG 16.3

Making efforts to reduce the instance of SLAPP filings helps to achieve SDG 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.