United in action: A decade of NHRIs promoting and protecting human rights across Europe

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Driving the growth of and strengthening European NHRIs over the last 10 years

 

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Growth of ENNHRI

Growth of ENNHRI

Growth of A-Status institutions

Staff members

Mandates

Members’ working groups

How ENNHRI helped strengthen my NHRI

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Name Surname, Institution

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Name Surname, Institution

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Name Surname, Institution

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Name Surname, Institution

Collaboration: the key to NHRIs establishing themselves on the European stage

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Click on the dots to view more members’ working groups

Asylum and Migration WG

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Legal WG

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Economic, Social and Cultural WG

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Communication WG

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Artificial Intelligence WG

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Climate and Human Rights core group

  • Submitted ENNHRI third party interventions in three pending climate cases.
  • Represented ENNHRI at CDDH-ENV meetings as an observer.
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Business and Human Rights WG

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CRPD WG

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Older Persons WG

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Videos

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Key moments of recognition of NHRIs

Laying the foundations for ENNHRI (1993-2012)

ENNHRI was established in 2013 to meet a clear need: an official network for European NHRIs. Prior to this, European NHRIs had been working together in a more informal grouping. Its success laid the foundations for ENNHRI as it is today. 1994: the first meeting of European NHRIs takes place. 1997: the European Group of NHRIs is established in Copenhagen. 2001: the European Group of NHRIs is accorded observer status at the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights. 2007: the Regulation for the EU Fundamental Rights Agency is adopted – it includes references to the Paris Principles and…Read More

ENNHRI starts cooperation with key partners

Immediately after ENNHRI’s establishment, a joint conference was held in Vienna in October 2013 with the Council of Europe, the European Network of Equality Bodies, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). This conference led to the creation of cooperation platforms in the fields of asylum and migration, hate crime, economic and social rights, and Roma (in 2015).

First NHRI Academy with OSCE/ODIHR

The first edition of ENNHRI’s flagship capacity building event for NHRI staff took place in Budapest. It continues to this day as a joint initiative with OSCE/ODIHR, and its 10th edition took place in June 2023. Each year staff have been trained on how to use their mandates to work on a pressing human rights topic.

EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019)

The EU Action Plan supported the crucial role of NHRIs as independent institutions, while affirming the EU’s commitment to support and engage (in particular) with Paris Principles-compliant institutions. It also endorsed the upgrade of institutions from ‘B’ to ‘A’ status and cooperation with regional and international NHRI networks (ENNHRI and GANHRI respectively).

ENNHRI’s first written third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights

ENNHRI’s first third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights was in the case Big Brother Watch & others v. the United Kingdom (UK). This concerned surveillance regimes in the UK. This was followed in 2019 by a third-party intervention in the same case before the Grand Chamber. The Court’s final judgment was a landmark in the areas of mass surveillance and the right to privacy. Prior to this in 2008, NHRIs made their first collective intervention before the Court. This was in the case D.D. v. Lithuania and related to the legal capacity rights of people with a…Read More

Copenhagen Declaration cites NHRIs as crucial for implementing European Convention on Human Rights

Through the Copenhagen Declaration, Council of Europe Member States confirmed their commitment to a strong and independent European Court of Human Rights; the right to individual petition; and the responsibility of states for national implementation. The Declaration also reiterated the significant role that national human rights structures and stakeholders play in implementing the Convention. In doing so, it called on states – if they had not already done so – to consider the establishment of an independent NHRI in accordance with the Paris Principles.

EU Council Conclusions highlight NHRIs as key to implementing EU Charter

In its Conclusions, the Council of the European Union recognised that independent NHRIs (and equality bodies) play a crucial role in protecting and promoting fundamental rights, while aiding awareness raising and contributing to the compliance of national policies with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. NHRIs were identified as being key for Charter implementation on account of their broad and horizontal fundamental rights mandate and their proximity to citizens.

FRA report on strong and effective NHRIs

This major report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) called for the effectiveness and impact of NHRIs in the EU to be strengthened. It emphasised that stronger NHRIs would support the monitoring of the rule of law and implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. This was FRA’s second report on NHRIs following an in-depth study in 2010.

European Commission and European Parliament recognise NHRIs as a rule of law indicator

The European Commission’s first report on the state of the rule of law in the European Union recognised an NHRI in compliance with the Paris Principles as an indicator for a healthy national rule of law situation. It states that NHRIs “play an important role as rule of law safeguard and can provide an independent check on the system in a rule of law crisis.” In the same year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for NHRIs’ involvement in an EU Mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. It calls for NHRIs to be involved in…Read More

Landmark Council of Europe Recommendation on NHRIs adopted

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted a milestone Recommendation on developing and strengthening NHRIs. This fleshes out a series of principles that 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 policymakers and involvement in all stages of legislation and policymaking 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…Read More

Fourth Council of Europe Summit calls for more engagement with NHRIs

The Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe was a major moment for NHRIs. Its Reykjavik Declaration called for the facilitation of more meaningful engagement with NHRIs. This also recognised the added value of NHRIs for implementing European Court of Human Rights’ judgments and strengthening Council of Europe work on the environment and human rights.

Realising NHRIs’ full potential as human rights changemakers

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