Established in 2010 in the framework of the EU funded project “Lawyers serving lawyers”, the Observatory was re-established in 2015.

The Observatory’s basic aim is to uphold the right to practice law freely and totally independently, and to denounce situations where the right to legal council is at risk.  

The Observatory’s work covers warnings, field support and training.

Our Team


The Observatory main office is in Paris.

The French National Bars Council and the Paris Bar have put two persons at the disposal of the Observatory. Their work is geared towards fostering networking and coordinating the different missions.

Through its Foundation, the Consejo General de la Abogacía Española (Spanish General Bar Council  also provides a person whose direct responsibility includes the identification, formulation and coordination of the Observatory’s activity.

Our Missions


The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (IOLD) is an initiative of the French National Bars Council  (France), the Paris Bar Association (France), the Consejo General de la Abogacía Española (Spain) and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy).

Established in 2010 in the framework of the EU funded project “Lawyers serving lawyers”, it was re-established in May 2015 to defend legal representation and denounce situations that violated the right to counsel.

The Observatory came about with the intention of coordinating its work with that of third-party entities, networks and mechanisms operating in the sphere of protecting lawyers in general and specifically lawyers defending human rights.  

The Observatory acts as an umbrella for a large number of bar associations and civil society organizations enabling it to play a leading role in defending lawyers in danger both nationally and internationally.

The Observatory’s work covers warnings, filed support and training:

Emergency Assistance

Establishment of emergency assistance mechanisms for lawyers faced with a serious and imminent threat.

This support can take various forms including:

Sending a special legal team on a field trip to defend a lawyer who is being subject to criminal proceedings Granting emergency funding to a lawyer and his family to face a difficult economic situation as a result of threats.

Purchasing protective equipment (installation of security equipment, securing computer networks, etc.)

Monitoring and Advocacy

Identifying lawyers at risk around the world by becoming the recipient of alerts issued by the member bars and monitoring the situation of lawyers in the most problematic countries.

Denouncing these cases by disseminating information confirmed by reliable sources such as the state authorities of the country, the diplomatic bodies of other member countries, as well as by relevant global and regional organizations so as to trigger their special protective procedures.

Our Members


As an inclusive structure, membership in the Observatory is open to all bars and associations involved or wishing to invest in the defense of threatened lawyers.

The Observatory’s by-laws establish different categories of members:

The “Founding members” are the Conseil National des Barreaux (France), the Barreau de Paris (France), the Consejo General de la Abogacía Española (Spain) and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy).
The “Active members” are the bars and national councils that wish to join the Observatory.
The “Associate members” are the bar associations and other lawyers’ associations, union and international conferences interested in becoming involved in the Observatory’s work.

Any other entity or civil society organization involved in protecting human rights defenders can also contribute with its resources and capabilities as a “partner”.

The governance of the Observatory has been designed to meet both the imperative of efficiency and speed imposed by the situations of lawyers in danger and the imperative of democracy and inclusiveness of the largest number of organizations. The Observatory is thus composed:

  • A Board composed of 4 founding members and 2 elected among the “active members” of the Observatory. The Board appoints a Chair, General Director, and Treasurer, defines the Observatory’s strategic lines, and approves action to support lawyers in danger. 
  • A General Assembly that brings together founding members, active members, associate members and the Observatory’s Partners, at least once a year. Only founding members and active members, who pay an annual fee, have voting rights. The General Assembly validates the financial and moral report, decides on all the questions submitted to it and elects the two  active members to the Board. The General Assembly is also the occasion to debate the general situation of lawyers in the world in order to feed the reflections of the Board for the definition of the Observatory strategy.

Join the Observatory


Depending on the nature of your organization, you can join the Observatory as: 

“Active member” for national bars or councils, a status that gives the right to vote at the General Assembly subject to the payment of an annual fee.
“Associate member”
for associations, unions and international conferences of lawyers, without membership fees or voting rights.
“Partner” for any organization or NGO involved in the protection of human rights defenders, without voting rights or membership fees.

To join, download the registration form. The Observatory bylaws are available here.

Send the filled form to contact@protect-lawyers.org or to the following address:
Observatoire international des avocats
Ordre des avocats de Paris
4, boulevard du Palais
75053 Paris Cedex 01

The Observatory’s Board has established the following table of annual contributions for the 2020-2021 period:

  • 2.500 € for bar associations with more than 2.500 members.
  • 1.500 € for bar associations between 1.000 and 2.499 members.
  • 1.000 € for bar associations between 500 and 999 members.
  • 500 € for bar associations with fewer than 500 members.

To date, 47 bar associations have joined the Observatory as active members:



  • CNB
  • Barreau de Aix en Provence
  • Barreau de Caen
  • Barreau des Hauts de Seine
  • Barreau de Lille
  • Barreau de Lyon
  • Barreau de Marseille
  • Barreau de Nantes
  • Barreau de Nice
  • Barreau de Paris
  • Barreau de Rouen
  • Barreau de Strasbourg
  • Barreau de Tours



  • Consejo General de la Abogacía Española
  • Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Barcelona
  • Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Bizkaia
  • Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid
  • Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Talavera
  • Muy Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Pamplona



  • Consiglio Nazionale Forense
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Bologna
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Brescia
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Messina
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Milano
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Modena
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Monza
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Napoli
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Padova
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Roma
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Rovereto
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Torino
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Verona
  • Ordine degli avvocati di Vicenza



  • Barreau de Hamm
  • Barreau de Cologne



  • Barreau de Genève
  • Barreau de Neuchâtel



  • Barreau de Bruxelles



  • Barreau de Diyarbakir



  • Barreau du Cameroun

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)


  • Barreau du Lualaba (RDC)



  • Ilustre y Nacional Colegio de Abogados México

Associate Members of the Observatory

  • Avocats Européens démocrates
  • ASF France
  • Berliner Anwaltsverein e.V
  • China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
  • Conférence des bâtonniers
  • CCBE
  • Défense sans Frontières – Avocats Solidaires
  • Endangered Lawyers – Avvocati Minacciati
  • Lawyers for Lawyers
  • SAF
  • UJA Aix en Provence
  • The Arrested Lawyers initiative
  • Union des Jeunes Avocats de Marseille
  • Association des juristes progressistes de Genève