For States, becoming more engaged in the human rights process through ratification of treaties brings with it greater protection for its people. However, with constant growth of the human rights protection system, States are also faced with increasing requirements for implementing treaties and the associated reporting, as well as following up on numerous recommendations from the international human rights mechanisms.
But two new publications from the UN Human Rights Office aim to provide States with tools and suggestions on how to handle these multiple tasks while maintaining strong communication lines with civil society.
The Practical Guide for Effective State Engagement with International Human Rights Mechanisms, and its accompanying Study, provides best practices from States that created central structures, called National Mechanism for Reporting Follow-up (NMRF), to coordinate among the various government ministries, specialized institutions, parliament, and the judiciary, and to consult with civil society and national human rights institutions.
Through NMRFs ownership of the human rights process is nationally built, human rights expertise is enhanced and communication between the various stakeholders in human rights at the country level are strengthened, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in the opening for the publications.
“Through such institutionalized contacts, the voices of victims and their representatives will also increasingly be heard,” he said. “National mechanisms for reporting and follow-up would furthermore enhance the coherence and impact of each State’s human rights diplomacy.”
NMRFs thus have the potential to become one of the key components of the national human rights protection system, bringing international and regional human rights norms and law directly in practice at the national level.
During a launch event for the publication, several States that had created NMRFs shared how the structures worked for them.
“Implementation of recommendations to improve human rights can only be successful if States engage continuously and constructively with United Nations human rights mechanisms, thereby reinforcing a virtuous cycle for human rights progress”, said the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Kate Gilmore.
In practice, most NMRFs fall into three main types: ministerial, inter-ministerial and institutionally separate.
Manuela Teixeira Pinto, Deputy Permanent Representative of Portugal, whose country has an inter-ministerial NMRF, said political will commitment must underpin the creation of any NMRF.
“The establishment of an NMRF created a permanent human rights governance structure, enabling a synergy between the international and national level,” she said.
Hassane Boukili, Deputy Permanent Representative of Morocco, whose country has an institutionally separate NMRF, mentioned its strong mandate, high political profile, effective administrative structure and institutionalized links with civil society and other national partners.
Jorge Lomónaco, Permanent Representative of Mexico, whose country has a ministerial NMRF, referred to the networks of focal points to help coordinate the collection of information and the practice of the NMRF to coordinate with the legislature and judiciary.
Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai, the Permanent Representative of Botswana, mentioned that OHCHR is supporting the Government to strengthen its inter-ministerial NMRF.
“A strong NMRF leads to greater visibility of human rights, an institutionalization of reporting and follow up and ultimately to a better protection of human rights,” he said.
2 January 2017