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UN Human Rights and NHRIs

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. For instance, NHRIs:

  • perform core protection functions such as prevention of torture and degrading treatment;
  • play a role in advancing all aspects of the rule of law;
  • contribute to effective Parliaments, dynamic civil society organizations, and alert and responsive media;
  • ensure a school system with human rights education programmes at all levels and, generally;
  • foster a society based on respect for universal human rights.

In order to be effective and recognized by the international community, NHRIs must adhere to the standards set out in the Paris Principles, endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1993. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), in collaboration with the UN Human Rights, grants membership and two levels of status based on the criteria set out in the Paris Principles.

Our role with NHRIs

UN Human Rights supports the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs in countries around the world. We support them in the implementation of their broad mandates to promote and protect human rights.

More specifically, the Office (see the video):

  • supports efforts for the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs worldwide, with and through UN Human Rights 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 Paris Principles;
  • establishes guidance notes, methodological tools, best practices and lessons learned on issues related to NHRIs;
  • facilitates participation of NHRIs in the Human Rights Council and other UN human rights bodies (see the video)
  • facilitates partnerships between NHRIs and UN Country Teams;
  • 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 the Office’s NHRI-related activities.

Response to COVID-19

NHRIs and regional human rights mechanisms (RHRMs) are on the front lines of ensuring that human rights are upheld in the COVID-19 response by governemnts around the world. UN Human Rights has compiled trends and initiatives undertaken by these organizations in order to foster good practices.

Upholding human rights in times of COVID-19: What NHRIs are doing | What RHRMs are doing

Latest UN Secretary-General reports

  • Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly on the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights: A/75/224
  • Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights: A/74/226
  • Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights: A/HRC/39/20
  • Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council on Activities of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles): A/HRC/39/21

The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) 

UN Human Rights acts as secretariat for the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and its Sub-Committee on Accreditation, on which the Office is a permanent observer. With 117 NHRIs as its current members and observers, GANHRI is one of the largest human rights networks worldwide. GANHRI has four regional networks of NHRIs in Africa, the Americas, the Asia Pacific and Europe.

Learn more about GANHRI and its accreditation process

UN Human Rights and Regional Human Rights Mechanisms (RHRMs)

The UN recognizes the significant role played by regional and sub-regional human rights arrangements in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, endorsed efforts to establish, strengthen and increase the effectiveness of these arrangements while at the same time stressed the importance of their cooperation with the UN human rights system. This has been reconfirmed by the UN General Assembly in several of its resolutions requesting the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the exchanges between the UN and regional intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights (A/RES/32/127 and A/RES/63/170).

Over the years, UN Human Rights has hosted a number of meetings and regional workshops in order to strengthen cooperation between the regional arrangements and the international human rights mechanisms.

Learn more on how UN Human Rights works to enhance cooperation with Regional human rights mechanisms

Fellowships for staff of NHRIs and RHRMs

Staff members from NHRIs accredited with ‘A’ status are eligible for a six-month fellowship at the UN Human Rights Office, which permits them to gain knowledge and experience with the United Nations human rights system.

Meanwhile, RHRMs can nominate candidates for an intensive two-month fellowship. Selection of the fellows reflects gender and regional balance.