In 1923 Human Rights activists, republicans and socialists instituted the Portuguese Human Rights League. It aimed to defend the freedom and justice principles enounced at the Human Rights Declarations, proclaimed in 1798. Later, other fundamental documents became reference points, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948. For eighty years, and throughout several political contexts, the League carried on in its keystone aims and contributed to improve the situation and awareness of the human rights in Portugal.

Nearly by the end of the 20th century, in 1989 it was created theCIVITAS –Association for the Defence and Promotion of Citizens’ Rights. This association was declared as of public interest and became internationally recognized, especially due to its activities developed in the scope of the International Federation for Human Rights, in its sense of exposing and project development. In this regard, it promotes initiatives focused to populations in need, edits books, organizes symposiums, in cooperation of Universities and other similar institutions, on pinpointed themes, both theoretical and practical: from literacy on the future of Europe to the urgent rethinking of the concept on Human Rights per se.

Além da comunhão de fins e de perspectivas a Liga e a Civitas estão ligadas por associados comuns. Nessa medida, entende-se que é o momento de unir a história, o prestígio, a juventude e o dinamismo, com vista a criar uma grande associação de direitos humanos, denominada Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos – CIVITAS, que possa gerar novas sinergias e nova dinâmica, num momento conturbado na cena internacional, em que novas dúvidas e novos riscos à propagação da ideia do Direito e dos direitos parecem prefigurar-se no horizonte.


É constituída e reger-se-á pelos presentes estatutos e pela lei uma associação privada, com personalidade jurídica e sem fins lucrativos, denominada Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos – CIVITAS, a qual durará por tempo indeterminado.

The Association results from the merger of the Portuguese League for Human Rights and CIVITAS, Association for the Defense and Promotion of Citizens’ Rights, deliberated by the General Assemblies of both, in legal and statutory terms.

  1. The Headquarter is at Rua do Salitre, no. 113, parishof Coração de Jesus, Lisbon.
  2. 2. Local and regional centers may be open.
  1. The League aims to defend, to enhance and to expand the Human Rights, (considered as essential elements of the Person dignity), and the possibility of guarantying that, by freedom, each Person may be responsible both for its own destiny and of the community where is inserted in.
  2. To perform its Mission, the League assumes the following aims:
    1. Pedagogic action that leads the Portuguese community to assume the meaning and the importance of its fundamental rights;
    2. Public denounce and fighting any offense, omission, marginalization or obstruction to that rights in Portugal, amongst others:
      1. Right to Human Dignity;
      2. Right to Equal Opportunities;
      3. Right to Civic Participation and Active Citizenship;
      4. Right to Culture and Education;
      5. Right to Work;
      6. Right to Health;
      7. Right to Social Security;
      8. Right to Housing;
      9. Right to Civic, Politics and Religious Freedom of Speech;
      10. Right to Information;
      11. Right to Safe and Balanced Environment;
      12. Right to Cultural Patrimony;
      13. Right to Justice.
  3. As to fulfil its aims, the Association may use all forms of action that considers suitable and amongst others:
    1. To divulge the citizens’ rights;
    2. Publically divulge situations where the citizens’ rights had been offended, omitted, marginalized or obstructed;
    3. To boost the interchange between citizens and the Association, bearing in mind the effective support on solving specific problems;
    4. To act near the competent authorities as to safeguard the citizens’ rights;
    5. To gather data that allow performing studies and analysis of situations and its later widespread divulgation, as well as the conclusions on the matter;
    6. To cooperate with public and private entities, be it national, foreign or international, aiming the implementation of its enunciated goals.
  4. Without prejudice to its independent manner of action, the Association may associate with foreign organizations of similar charter and aims or become member of international organizations aiming to contribute to the defence of the Person’s fundamental rights.

In all its action, the League shall take into consideration, amongst others, the:

  1. Fundamental rights consecrated at the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic;
  2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  3. Universal Declarations of the Rights of the Child;
  4. European Convention on Human Rights;
  5. European Social Charter;
  6. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  7. International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

The Association is secular, independent from the Government, political parties and from any civic or political movements.

  1. The Association is composed by an unlimited number of members distributed by the following categories: founders, effectives, cooperatives, correspondents and member of honor.
  2. 2. Founding members are those who when enrolling to the Portuguese Human Rights League and to CIVITAS – Association for the Defence and Promotion of Citizens’ Rights did not sign the declaration referred in Article 26.
  3. Effective members are Portuguese citizens above 18 years old who are actively and unequivocally interested in cooperating with the Association aims.
  4. Cooperative members are groups, associations or organizations that decide to actively
    cooperate with the Association aims and that who the Association accepts.
    Portuguese citizens living abroad,
    for at least five years, may also be considered as cooperative member.
  5. Correspondent members are:
    1. Portuguese citizens above 18 years old, living abroad that are actively and unequivocally interested in cooperate with the Association aims;
    2. Portuguese, based in a foreign country, who founded a collectivity and who wish to cooperate actively on the Association aims and who are accepted to do so.
  6. The members of honor are private or collective, national, foreign or international person(s) who justify this distinction for his/hers/theirs active identification with the aims and goals of the Association or by the services may have done.
  1. Members obtain the category of effective when fully satisfy the dispositions on no. 3 of the article 6 and are proposed by two effective members with a minimum of six months of activity and then accepted by the Board of the Association. If the proposal is refused, it has to be duly and fully documented why and sent in written to the candidate and his/hers supporters.
  2. Obtains the category of cooperative member collective or private persons who meet the dispositions of no. 4 of the article 6, and approved by the Board under proposal of the interested person(s).
  3. Obtains the category of correspondent member private or collective persons who meet the dispositions of no. 5 of the article 6, and are approved by the Board under proposal of the interested person(s).
  4. Obtains the category of member of honor private or collective persons who meet the dispositions of no.6 of the article 6 and are approved by National Plenary under proposal of the National Coordinator Commission or by the Board.
  5. Members lose their category if:
    1. Inform in written the Board their will to leave;
    2. Undergo a disciplinary penalty of loos of member quality.
  6. Members in full power is whom has his/hers/theirs monthly fees up-to-date and are not on suspension of rights.

Members shall:

  1. Promote the development and secure the prestige of the Association;
  2. Actively contribute to the performance of the charter aims;
  3. Act accordingly in the post that they have been elected to and perform faithfully the missions they were given;
  4. Participate in the National Plenary, the organs or center meetings:
  5. Fulfill the Charter and InternalRuling as well as the deliberations taken by the competent organs within their scope of competences;
  6. Contribute to the maintenance of the Association by paying the initial and monthly fees.
  1. The member has the right to:
    1. Elect and being elected to the social organs;
    2. Participate in all initiatives of the Association;
    3. Within the internal frame of the Association, may act in full freedom of criticism and initiative;
    4. Use the association premises and services, according to the Internal Rules in force;
    5. Propose the admission of effective members;
    6. Request summon of a National Plenary under the terms line b) of no. 4 of the article 16.
  2. Correspondent member and member of honor may not use the rights of the members foreseen on lines a), e) e f) of the above number.
  3. Collective persons to whom it was attributed the category of cooperative member, correspondent member or member of honor shall only comply the duties referred on lines a), b), d) e e) of the article 8 and the rights mentioned at lines b), c) e d) of the article 9.
  4. The participation of the members mention on the above number in a National Plenary will be through a representative who will have the right to elect the social organs, but who is illegible – individually or collectively.
  1. For violating the chartered duties or the Internal Ruling it may be applied to the Members, according to the severity of the infraction the following disciplinary penalties:
    1. Reprehension;
    2. Suspension of rights;
    3. Loss of member quality.
  2. Members have the guarantee of early hearing and free defense rights.
  3. The penalty foreseen at line a) of the no. 1 is of the competence of the Board, with appeal to the National Coordinator Commission by written petition, duly based and presented by the member within fifteen days after being notified from the decision that shall be informed in written within five days, by registered and proof of reception letter.
  4. The penalty foresees at line b) of the no. 1 is of the competence of the Board and shall be applied to the members who did not paid their fees for a period higher than six months, ceasing as soon as the fees are paid.
  5. The penalty foresees at line c) of the no. 1 is of the competence of the National Plenary, by based initiative of the Board or by a number of twenty members in full power, without prejudice of the no. 2 dispositions.
  1. The organizational structure of the Association reads as:
    1. National organs;
    2. Local and regional centers.
  2. National organs:
    1. Board;
    2. Supervisory Board;
    3. National Coordinator Commission;
    4. National Plenary.
  3. Locais and regionals centers:
    1. Local centers;
    2. Regional centers.
  1. The Local and regional organs are designated by centers and composed by all the members living in a certain place or region and homologated by the National Coordinator Commission.
  2. The local and regional centers shall boost, within their geographic area, all the activities to promote the aims of the Association. For that, they will have executive and financial autonomy, acting accordingly to the Association aims and settle, case by case, their internal ruling.
  3. To constitute a center, it may be stablished, in ruling, a minimum number of members.
  1. Board is formed by:
    • 1 President;
    • 9 Vice-Chairmen;
    • 1 General-Secretary;
    • 2 Vocals, being one the Treasurer and the other Secretary.
  2. The Board has to:
    • Secure the permanent management of the Association and the guidelines of its activity;
    • Execute the general orientations of action approved and the deliberations of the National Plenary;
    • Draw up the Internal Charter of the Association;
    • Promote and boost the constitution of the local and regional centers;
    • Organize or promote all activities that seems convenient to the pursuit of the Association’s aims;
    • Discuss, accept, fulfill and comply to fulfill celebrated agreements between the Association and third parties or entities;
    • Represent the Association in all senses and cases;
    • Choose, amongst its elements, an Executive Secretary that secure the normal bureaucratic function of the Association;
    • Present before the National Plenary the annual report of its activities, actions and accounts;
    • Accept subsidies, donations, heirlooms, legacies and participations after favorable vote of the National Coordinator Commission.
  3. The mandate of the Board is biannual and is elected by National Plenary through a subscribe list of, at least twenty-fivemembers in full powers, or subscribed by the ceasing Board.
  1. The Supervisory Board consist of:
    1. 1 President;
    2. 2 Vocals.
  2. The Supervisory Board has to:
    1. Audit the Board and Centers activities, namely in what concerns the fulfillment of the charter aims and the administrative and financial management;;
    2. Elaborate and present to the National Coordinator Commission the reports on the Board and Centers activities;
    3. Elaborate and present to the National Plenary global reports related to the Board activity.
  3. The mandate of the Supervisory Board is biannual and is elected by National Plenary through a subscribe list of, at least twenty-fivemembers in full powers, or subscribed by the ceasing Supervisory Board.
  1. The National Coordinator Commission is the organ that, inbetween National Plenary meetings, defines the guidelines of the Association’s activities.
  2. The National Coordinator Commission consists of:
    1. Board of the Association;
    2. Supervisory Board;
    3. National Plenary Round;
    4. Representatives of the Local and Regional Centers, in a maximum of fifty members to be designated under the Charter terms;
  3. The National Coordinator Commission competences are:
    1. To coordinate nationally all the activities of the Association and define the general acting guidelines;
    2. If considers necessary, to call for a National Plenary;
    3. To approve the regional Centers foreseen on no. 1 of the article 12;
    4. To be the pondering entity between National Plenaries;
    5. To study the reports presented by the Supervisory Board and decide accordingly.
  4. The National Coordinator Commission will meet annually and extraordinarily when necessary, by convocation of the President of the Board or upon request of its members.
  1. The National Plenary is composed by all members in full powers and is the highest organ of the Association.
  2. The National Plenary is presided by a Round with the following composition:
    1. 1 President;
    2. 1 Vice-Chairman;
    3. 2 Secretaries.
  3. The National Plenary Round mandate is biannual and is elected by the National Plenary by subscribed lists, of at least, twenty-fivemembers in full power.
  4. By call of the Board, the National Plenary holds meetings:
    1. Ordinarily to:
      • Election of the Board, Supervisory Council and the Plenary Round;
      • Define the general guidelines of the Association activity;
      • Revise the annual report of action and accounts presented by the Board;
      • To revise the global report on the Board activity, and.
    2. Extraordinarily:
      • To deliberate on the proposal togrant the category of member of honor, presented by the National Coordinator Commission or by the Board;
      • To deliberate on the proposal of loss of member quality presented under the terms of no.5 of the article 10;
      • Whenever necessary, called by the Board or any other organ;
      • By initiative of, at least, fifty members in full power..
  5. National Plenary has to decide on:
    1. The election of the Board, the National Plenary Round and the Supervisory Board;
    2. The loss of member quality, under the terms of no. 5, of the article 10;
    3. The proposals to grant the category of member of honor, presented under the terms of no. 4, of the article 7;
    4. Ponder on the Association with international organization or filiation in international organizations;
    5. Approving changes on the Charter and the Internal Rules;
    6. Pronouncing on matters that were presented before the National Plenary.
  1. The deliberations of the social organs, unless legal disposition imperative that demand majority, are reached by vote plurality, being present the majority of its members and having the Presidents of the Board and of theSupervisory Board, after voting the right to casting vote.
  2. The deliberations will be atthe meeting minute to be approved on the following meeting.
  3. The deliberations on people are always by secret vote.
  4. The meetings’ summonses are by post letter with a minimum notice of eight days and indicating the day, time and place of the meeting and its respective agenda.
  5. Ending the mandate, the holders will continue transitorily in power until the investiture of the new holders.
  1. The Association’s revenues consist of:
    1. Fixed amount by National Plenary of initial and monthly fees to be paid by the Members;
    2. The subsidies, donations, heirlooms, legacies and participations that might be granted, that do not bind or limit the independence or aims of the Association; 3. The income of any asset belonging to the Association;
    3. The income of any asset belonging to the Association;
    4. The payment of services done by the Association in the sense of its chartered activities;
    5. The revenue of published work, courses, seminaries or any other activity held by the Association.
  2. 70% of the initial and monthly fees paid to the centers by members or donation by members or third parties, will remain at the centers and the centers are responsible for its management and presenting the annual account report to the Supervisory Board. The remained 30% shall be sent monthly to the Board of the Association. Os restantes 30% devem ser remetidos mensalmente à Direcção da Associação.
  3. The division of revenues amongst local and regional centers is established by proposal of the local centers by the Board.
  4. If necessary and possible the Board may reimburse the expenses resulting from the local and regional centers.
  1. The President of the Board or, in his/her absence or impediment, by one of the Vice-Chairmen, or, in his/hers absence or impediment, any member of the Association appointed to that effect, represents, active or passively, in-sense and out-sense the Association.
  2. The signature of the President of the Board or of the Vice-Chairman (who replaces him/her in force) and of one member of the Board are necessary to bind the Association in all acts and contracts celebration.

The Associative year is the same as the civil year.

The Association is subject tothe Portuguese Laws and Courts, being the applicable jurisdiction of Lisbon (with express renouncing of any other) the only competent entity to settle all emerging matters of social actions.

The National Plenary approves the Internal Rules that inserts the necessary specifications to rule and execute the present Charter.

  1. The Association merger with another or others and its divisionneed a voting of three quarters majority of the members present at the National Plenary, extraordinarily convoked to that end, presided by deliberation of the National Coordinating Commission and discussion in all local and regional sections.
  2. The dissolution of the Association requires the favorable vote of three quarters from all members.
  3. In case of extinction, the Plenary will appoint the liquidators and rule the destination of the existing assets, without prejudice of the imperative legal disposition on the destination of the goods.

All changes to the Charter need a majority of three quarters of the members present in a National Plenary, who were convoked to that end at least forty-five days’ prior the session date.

Final and Transitory Provisions

All actives, including property assets, and passives of the associations that merge in the Portuguese Human Rights League and CIVITAS are transferred to the Association.

All members of the Portuguese Human Rights League and CIVITAS -Association for the Defense and Promotion of Citizens’ Rights, are automatically members of the Association, unless if they clearly declare against it.

The existing local and regional centersat the founding date of the Association still exist and are transferred to the present one.

A Transitory Committee formed by the Board of CIVITAS -Association for the Defense and Promotion of Citizens’ Rights and by the Directory of the Portuguese Human Rights League in force at the merge decision, shall perform all the necessary actions to the material execution of the merger of original associations as well as the current management and preparation for the elections of the Association organs.

Charter Version .pdf

Download the Charter of the Portuguese Human Rights League – Civitas.