OHCHR and NHRIs
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) that comply with the principles relating to the status of national institutions, commonly known as the Paris Principles, are playing a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level, a role which is increasingly recognized by the international community.
OHCHR, through the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section (NIRMS), supports the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs and works closely with NHRIs to center their work on core protection issues, such as the prevention of torture and degrading treatment, summary executions, arbitrary detention and disappearances, or the protection of human rights defenders. NHRIs can, and should, play a role in advancing all aspects of the rule of law, including with regard to the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the correctional system.
NHRIs can also contribute to effective Parliaments (ideally with a Human Rights body), strong and dynamic civil society organizations, alert and responsive media, a school system with human rights education programmes at all levels and, generally, a society encouraging the objective of a universal culture of human rights. Specifically, “A” status NHRIs can be one of the best relay mechanisms at country level to ensure the application of international human rights norms.
More specifically, NIRMS:
- supports efforts for the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs worldwide, with and through OHCHR geographic desk officers and field presences, other UN agencies, funds and programmes and regional networks of NHRIs, including through technical cooperation and capacity-building projects for NHRIs;
- reviews draft laws concerning NHRIs and advises on compliance with the PPs;
- establishes guidance notes, methodological tools, best practices and lessons learned on issues related to NHRIs;
- provides secretariat support to the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs, including its Subcommittee on Accreditation and its Bureau;
- facilitates partnerships between NHRIs and UNCTs;
- supports the interaction of NHRIs with the international human rights system, including treaty bodies, special procedures mechanisms, the HRC/UPR;
- supports regional and sub-regional networks on NHRIs;
- drafts the Secretary-General’s and High Commissioner’s reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on OHCHR NHRI-related activities;
Relevant UN resolutions
Over the past two decades, the United Nations General Assembly and other bodies have issued resolutions of relevance to NHRIs:
- GA resolution 48/134 endorsing the Paris Principles;
- A number of HRC resolutions, of which the latest is A/HRC/RES/20/14;
- A number of GA resolutions on the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, of which the latest is A/RES/67/163;
- A number of GA resolutions on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, of which the latest is A/RES/66/169.
Relevant SG reports
The following links provide access to the latest Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly A/66/274 on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, (E F S A C R).
The following links provide access to the latest Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council A/HRC/23/27 on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights; (A C E F R S).
The following links provide access to the latest Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council A/HRC/23/28, entitled “Activities of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles”, (A C E F R S).
The International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC)
At the International Conference held in Tunis in 1993, NHRIs established the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC) with the aim to coordinate the activities of the NHRI network. The ICC is incorporated as a legal entity under the Swiss law, and has a Bureau consisting of 16 “A status” NHRIs representing the four regions of the ICC. General annual meetings of the ICC, meetings of the ICC Bureau and of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation, as well as international conferences of the ICC are held under in cooperation with NIRMS in its capacity as the ICC secretariat.
The ICC Bureau consists of the following NHRIs:
Permanent Secretariat of the Network of African NHRIs (NANHRI):
Mr. Gilbert Sebihogo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Network of the NHRIs of the Americas:
Ms. Gabriela del Mar Ramirez (email@example.com)
Permanent Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) http://www.asiapacificforum.net/:
Mr. Kieren Fitzpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Permanent Secretariat of the European Group of NHRIs:
Ms. Debbie Kohner (Debbie.Kohner@cntr.be).
ICC Geneva Representative
Mr. Bruce Adamson (email@example.com);
Assistant: Ms. Sarah Pallesen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Accreditation of NHRIs
The Sub‑Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) has the mandate to review and analyze accreditation applications and to make recommendations to the ICC Bureau on the compliance of applicants with the Paris Principles. The SCA is composed of one “A status” accredited NHRI from each of the four regional groupings: Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. Members of the SCA are appointed by the regional groupings for a renewable term of three years. NIRMS participates in the work of the SCA as a permanent observer and in its capacity as the ICC secretariat.
As of February 2013, there are 69 NHRIs accredited with A Status by the ICC , i.e. in compliance with the Paris Principles. The following link provides access to the calendar of ICC accreditation reviews (2013-2017).
11th International Conference of NHRIs
The 11th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions took place in Amman, Jordan from 4 to 7 November 2012. It was hosted by the National Center for Human Rights of Jordan, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC).
The overall theme of the Conference was “The Human Rights of Women and Girls, Gender Equality: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions”.
The Conference was divided into substantive sessions and working groups with a focus on two priority areas: a) violence against women and girls, and b) women’s empowerment: economic, political and social rights and the right to participation.
Non-governmental organizations from around the world made a valuable contribution to the Conference, including the pre-Conference NGO Forum and Declaration.
The Eleventh International Conference adopted the Amman Declaration and Programme of Action. Regional plans of action, elaborated by NHRI regional groups at the Conference, are annexed to this Declaration and Programme of Action.
26th Annual Meeting of the ICC
The 26th annual meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions took place in Geneva from 6 to 8 May 2013. The main themes of the meeting were:
- 20 years of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action, Paris Principles and the ICC planning for the future;
- The report of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights Defenders;
- Follow up on Amman Declaration;
- Post 2015 Development Agenda and the role of NHRIs, and
- The Rights to Participation.
More than 80 NHRIs from around the world were present at the meeting, together with the regional networks, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, academia, UNDP, OHCHR and other UN agencies.
Guidance notes for NHRIs
NHRIs have clearly defined roles and opportunities to participate in the international human rights system and to follow-up to results and recommendations at the national level. The following links contain short guidance notes for NHRIs for:
- Human Rights Council, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NHRIParticipation.aspx
- the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review /UPR). http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/UPR/InfoNoteNHRIUPR2ndCycle.pdf
Fellowship for NHRI staff
In 2008, the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section of OHCHR introduced a fellowship programme. Through this programme, the staff members from NHRIs accredited with “A” status are selected to work in NIRMS for six months in order to gain knowledge and experience with the United Nations human rights system. This fellowship programme is beneficial for OHCHR, both in terms of substantive expertise as well as through the consolidation of direct contacts with NHRI staff globally. More information can be found through the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/FellowshipNHRIStaff.aspx
Since 2011, OHCHR/NIRMS maintains the official website of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (http://nhri.ohchr.org) The site includes global, regional and country information and thematic issues of interest to NHRIs.