Importance of partnership between NHRIs and civil society addressed at EU Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights

Maurice Claassens, Senior Network Development Officer at ENNHRI, speaking at 2018 EU Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights | 26 November 2018, Brussels

At the 2018 EU Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on 26 November in Brussels, ENNHRI’s Senior Network Development Officer, Maurice Claassens, presented about the importance of strong partnerships between National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) in strengthening civil society space.

“NHRIs are often referred to as bridge-builders between civil society and the state, and this partnership between civil society organisations and NHRIs is mutually beneficial”, said Mr Claassens.

He explained that since CSOs often work on the ground, they can bring to the attention of NHRIs concrete fundamental rights challenges and local socio-economic realities that NHRIs may not be aware of. On the other hand, as independent public institutions, NHRIs have formal access to state authorities and can bring human rights concerns of civil society on the agenda of the State.

An example was given of how, despite the threats and offensive speech directed towards CSOs engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights in Croatia, the Ombudswoman of Croatia continues to report on the environment in which CSOs work and the challenges they face, based on the information and complaints provided by CSOs.

Reference was also made to the Marrakesh Declaration on the role of NHRIs in expanding civil space and promoting and protecting Human Rights Defenders, which was adopted in October by the Global Alliance of NHRIs. The declaration identifies for NHRIs a prevention and early warning role, as well as the forging of closer partnerships to tackle current challenges.

ENNHRI’s regional action plan on the declaration, which includes the pillars of prevention, reaction and mainstreaming, was also mentioned. In the spirit of partnership, ENNHRI is currently consulting civil society and regional partners on how to implement the plan over the next three years.

Stay tuned: On Human Rights Day this 10th December, ENNHRI will launch a video addressing the value of collaboration and partnership between NHRIs and other actors, including CSOs. The video will feature insights from heads of European NHRIs and representatives from international CSOs and European institutions.

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