Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopts Recommendation on developing and strengthening NHRIs
The Recommendation acknowledges the role of NHRIs as pillars of the rule of law, human rights and democracy in Europe and recommends each Council of Europe Member State to establish, maintain and strengthen an independent NHRI in compliance with the Paris Principles and to ensure an enabling environment for, and cooperate with NHRIs.
While taking into account the recommendations and General Observations of the GANHRI Sub-Committee on Accreditation, the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation further fleshes out Council of Europe principles on NHRIs which Member States are encouraged to implement in law and practice, including:
- providing a firm legal basis for NHRIs, preferably at constitutional level
- ensuring adequate access to information and to policy makers and involvement in all stages of legislation and policy making with human rights implications
- implementing NHRI recommendations and making it a legal obligation to provide a timely and reasoned reply
- fostering awareness and cooperation of all relevant public authorities in relation to the mandate, independence and role of NHRIs
- protecting NHRIs against threats and intimidation and respecting confidential information collected by NHRIs.
The Recommendation highlights the great potential and impact of NHRIs for the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe, in particular for the effective implementation of the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR), including through third party interventions before the European Court of Human Rights and communications with regard to the supervision of the execution of judgments. Accordingly, the Recommendation also encourages Council of Europe Member States to explore ways of developing a stronger role and meaningful participation of NHRIs and ENNHRI in the Council of Europe.
Since the adoption of the previous Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on NHRIs in 1997, there has been a significant increase in the number of internationally accredited NHRIs in Council of Europe Member States: to date, 30 A-status NHRIs and 9 B-status NHRIs are present in 37 out of the 47 Member States.
ENNHRI, as observer to the Council of Europe Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), strongly engaged on the revision of the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on NHRIs. In February 2020, ENNHRI convened a meeting to discuss how the Recommendation can make a difference to the work of NHRIs, both at a national level and for engagement with the Council of Europe. As a follow-up to the meeting, ENNHRI made a submission to the CDDH-INST Drafting Group identifying key elements that were included in the final text.
To welcome the adoption of the new Recommendation, ENNHRI and the German Presidency of the Council of Europe will co-host a public High-Level Event on 26 April 2021 bringing together key stakeholders of the Council of Europe, heads of European NHRIs and high-level officials from the German Presidency to discuss means of further strengthening cooperation and support at national level, as well as bolstering meaningful participation on the part of NHRIs and ENNHRI in the Council of Europe.