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, Regional Mechanisms and Civil Society Section (NRCS), supports the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs and works closely with NHRIs to support them in the implementation of their broad mandates to promote and protect human rights. NHRIs perform 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 also 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 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 are one of the best relay mechanisms at country level to ensure the application of international human rights norms.
More specifically, NRCS:
- 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 Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, including its Sub-Committee 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 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 number of GA resolutions on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, of which the latest is
Relevant SG reports
- Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. - A/72/277
- Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. - A/HRC/33/33
- Secretary-General's report to the Human Rights Council entitled “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)”. -
The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)
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. In 2016, the ICC changed its name into Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). GANHRI 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 GANHRI. General annual meetings of GANHRI, meetings of the GANHRI Bureau and of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation, as well as international conferences of GANHRI are held in cooperation with NRCS in its capacity as the GANHRI secretariat.
List of NHRIs with GANHRI accreditation status (as of February 2018)
Chart of the status of NHRIs as of 21 February 2018
The GANHRI Bureau consists of the following NHRIs:
- National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda, Regional Chair –
- Commission nationale des droits de l’Homme de la Mauitanie -
- National Commission for Human Rights of Malawi
- Commission nationale des droits de l'homme et des libertés, (Cameroon) –http://www.cndhl.cm
Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) :
Ms. Madeleine Nirere (email@example.com)
Red de Instituciones Nacionales para la Promoción y Protección de los Derechos Humanos del Continente Americano : Dr. Ramiro Rivadeneira Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) :
Dr. Sima Samar (email@example.com)
European Network of National Human Rights Institutions :
Ms. Lora Vidovic (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GANHRI Geneva Representative
Ms. Katharina Rose (email@example.com)
National Institutions, Regional Mechanisms and Civil Society Section - NRCS
Mr. Vladlen Stefanov, Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Sisi Shahidzadeh, Human Rights Officer (email@example.com)
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 NHRIs 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. NRCS participates in the work of the SCA as a permanent observer and in its capacity as the ICC secretariat.
As of 26 January 2018, there are
77 NHRIs accredited with A Status by the GANHRI, i.e. in compliance with the Paris Principles. The following link provides access to the
sessions of the GANHRI Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) for 2018.
12th International Conference of NHRIs
The 12th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions took place in Merida, Mexico from 6 to 9 October 2015. It was hosted by the National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico in collaboration with the ICC and OHCHR.
The overall theme of the Conference was “The Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for National Human Rights Institutions”. The main conclusions and recommendations of the Conference were reflected in the Merida Declaration, adopted by the participants at the Conference.
GANHRI 2018 Annual Meeting
The GANHRI 2018 Annual Meeting took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 21 to 23 February 2018 and the main theme of the conference was “Rights of persons with disabilities and the role of NHRIs “.More than 85 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:
a) the Human Rights Council,
b) the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review /UPR).
Fellowship for NHRI staff
In 2008, the National Institutions Unit, of OHCHR introduced a fellowship programme. Through this programme, the staff members from NHRIs accredited with “A” status are selected to work in NRCS 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:
Since 2011, OHCHR/NRCS maintains the official website of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (http://nhri.ohchr.org). The site includes global, regional and country information and thematic issues of interest to NHRIs.