The CSHR was established in 1991 as a result of many human rights violations that took place in the country in the late 1980s. The Founder Director of the Centre who was attached to the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, saw the need for an organisation that would make the public aware of Human Rights and provide them with available remedies for the violation of rights.

Through its mandate of Human Rights education and research, the CSHR continued to conduct awareness and training programmes and carried out research towards disseminating knowledge of Human Rights in the country.

CSHR works with partners consisting of secondary school students of School Centres established since 1994, the rural community through Community Centres also established since 1994, the university community comprising students, academics and non academics, armed forces, police and prison officers, media personnel, persons with disabilities, prison inmates and the general public.

The Centre continued to carry out activities in keeping with its Strategic Plan, where Human Rights Education, Research, Capacity Building, Knowledge Services and Institutional Development were the areas of focus.

In terms of Human Rights Education, the need to offer formal Human Rights Courses to the public was identified. Towards this end, the CSHR offers programmes from Masters to Certificate level. commenced an online Diploma in Human Rights through the Distance Education Modernization Project (DEMP) of the Ministry of Higher Education. In addition, the University of Colombo, through the CSHR and the Faculty of Law, collaborated with the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand, to work towards offering the Asia Pacific Masters of Human Rights and Democratisation.

In the area of Research, the CSHR carries out practically applicable research.

With regard to Capacity Building, the CSHR continued to strengthen its partners in the area of rights and responsibilities with the objective of protecting the rights of others as well as theirs.

In the area of Knowledge Services, the CSHR continued to provide services and information through its Resource Centre to students, academics, researchers and the general public. The Centre also provided information through the electronic media in the form of the Human Rights Radio Programme conducted during the year.

In terms of Institutional Development, the fifth and final area that the CSHR focuses on, is in delivering programmes of high quality to those with whom the CSHR works. Towards this end, the CSHR made every effort to provide opportunities to its Staff to improve their knowledge and skills, which will contribute to enhanced programmes and to the creation of a culture of human rights in the country.