UN Paris Principles
The Paris Workshop, held in 1991, was a first step in the development of standards for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). These were subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 (Resolution A/RES/48/134) and are generally referred to as the ‘Paris Principles’.
The Paris Principles set out the main criteria that NHRIs are required to meet:
- Establishment under primary law or the Constitution
- A broad mandate to promote and protect human rights
- Formal and functional independence
- Pluralism, representing all aspects of society
- Adequate resources and financial autonomy
- Freedom to address any human rights issue arising
- Annual reporting on the national human rights situation
- Cooperation with national and international actors, including civil
To clarify further the contemporary content and scope of the Paris Principles, the Sub-committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI) develops General Observations. The General Observations are regularly updated and reflect established practice of the SCA on common and important interpretative issues concerning the implementation and application of the Paris Principles.
NHRIs are periodically accredited before the SCA. ‘Accreditation’ means that NHRIs are evaluated with reference to the Paris Principles.
NHRIs are accredited with one of the following statuses:
- A status – Fully compliant with Paris Principles
- B status – Partly compliant with Paris Principles
- No status – Not compliant with Paris Principles
Why is accreditation important?
The accreditation process is essential to the work of NHRIs because it:
- Provides evidence of an NHRI’s trustworthiness as a credible and independent actor
- Allows NHRIs to enhance their work by reflecting and acting upon recommendations from the SCA
- Assists NHRIs in applying the Paris Principles in their national contexts, ultimately helping ensure their independence, pluralism, effectiveness and accountability
NHRIs with A status have specific participation rights in international and regional mechanisms, including:
- Speaking rights in the UN Human Rights Council and before UN treaty bodies
- Being valued as interlocutors for European mechanisms, such as the OSCE, Council of Europe and EU institutions and agencies
- Voting rights and ability to hold governance positions in NHRI networks, such as ENNHRI and GANHRI
What is the accreditation process?
NHRI without status or with B status: NHRI submits letter to SCA Secretariat asking for accreditation, and upon invitation by the SCA Secretariat, NHRI submits documentation.
NHRI with A status: NHRI is invited by SCA Secretariat to submit documentation for periodic review (every 5 years).
SCA Secretariat summarises information received from NHRI and shares the summary and information received from third parties with NHRI under review for response.
SCA meets to review the NHRI application and organises a teleconference with the NHRI under review to ask clarification on any outstanding issues.
SCA recommendations are shared with the applicant NHRI. The NHRI has 28 days to challenge the report of the SCA
The GANHRI Bureau decides on the accreditation status and the SCA report is made public.
NHRI acts to address the SCA recommendations.
Who is involved?
- GANHRI’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA): Peer review on accreditation conducted by the SCA, comprised of one A-status institution from each of the GANHRI regional groupings (Africa, Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe).
- SCA Secretariat: Sends information about the SCA to NHRIs under review before, during and after accreditation. UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights serves as the Secretariat.
- GANHRI and regional representatives: One representative from GANHRI and each regional network assist the SCA in understanding UN and regional contexts and clarify procedural matters. They do not take part in decision-making. They assist NHRIs undergoing review.
- Third parties (e.g. civil society organisations): Provide information to SCA such as information on the NHRI’s compliance with Paris Principles. This information is shared with the NHRI before its review.