International Regulatory Framework for NHRIs

The UN encourages states to work towards A status accreditation.

In its latest GA Resolution on NHRIs, it “calls the states to follow up on the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Accreditation of the ICC (GANHRI), with a view to enabling NHRIs to fully comply with the Paris Principles in both law and practice.” (A/RES/70/163, para. 24)

The regulatory bases for states to be asked to establish NHRIs are quite varied. The following UN bodies requested the establishment of NHRIs in compliance with the Paris Principles: General Assembly (GA) resolutions, Human rights Council resolutions, UPR recommendations, UN treaty body recommendations and recommendations of UN independent experts.

UN GA Resolutions

  • The Paris Principles were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993 (A/RES/ 48/134),
  • Bi-annual Resolutions on NHRIs: for example, A/RES/70/163 of 17 December 2015: “Encourages Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions or, where they already exist, to strengthen them for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as outlined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action;” (A/RES/70/163, para. 8)

Bi/Annual Human Rights Council Resolutions

  • The most recent, HRC/RES/ 33/15 from October 2016, “encourages Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national human rights institutions or, where they already exist, to strengthen them to enable the effective fulfilment of their mandate to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as outlined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and to do so in accordance with the Paris Principles” (A/HRC/RES/33/15, para 2.)

UPR Recommendations

  • UPR reviews of States without an NHRI always include a recommendation to establish an NHRI in compliance with Paris Principles, such as “Establish a strong and well-funded national human rights institution that is fully compliant with the Paris Principles.”(Recommended by Norway to Belgium, 2nd Cycle UPR, Belgium accepted)
  • Indeed, also the most recent GA Resolution on NHRIs (A/RES/70/163, para. 9) “Welcomes the growing number of States establishing or considering the establishment of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, and welcomes in particular the growing number of States that have accepted recommendations to establish national institutions compliant with the Paris Principles made through the universal periodic review and, where relevant, by treaty bodies and special procedures;” (A/RES/70/163, para. 9)

UN Human Rights Treaties and Treaty Bodies

  • UN Treaty Bodies frequently issue recommendations for establishing or strengthening NHRIs. In case of Latvia, UN Human Rights Committee recommended that “the State party should provide the Ombudsman’s Office with adequate financial and human resources, in order to exercise its mandate in line with the Paris Principles and finalize an application for accreditation of the Ombudsman’s Office with the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.” (CCPR/C/LVA/CO/3, para. 5)
  • OPCAT and CRPD also reference Paris Principles in relation to National preventive Mechanisms (OPCAT) or Independent Monitoring Mechanism (CRPD). Thus, in many states NHRI is assigned with these roles- 22 National Preventive Mechanisms and 19 Independent Monitoring Mechanisms amongst ENNHRI members.

Secretary General (SG) Reports

  • In his latest Report to GA, the UN SG recommended that: ”Member States should establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles where none exists and strengthen the structures and independence of existing institutions to enable the independent and effective fulfilment of their mandate, taking into account the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Accreditation and advice from OHCHR.” (A/70/347, para. 117)
  • In his latest Report to HRC, the UN SG encouraged states “to establish a national human rights institution where none exists, and to strengthen the structures and independence of existing ones in order to enable the effective fulfilment of their mandate, taking into account the recommendations made by the Subcommittee on Accreditation and the advice provided by OHCHR.” (A/HRC/27/39, para. 102)