17 Feb 2020

European NHRIs submit input for review of Council of Europe Recommendation on NHRIs

On 6 February, ENNHRI held a high-level consultation in Brussels on the Council of Europe’s upcoming review of its Committee of Ministers Recommendation on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The consultation gathered representatives of 19 European NHRIs, Council of Europe actors and other stakeholders to explore how the Recommendation could enhance NHRIs’ promotion and protection of human rights. As an outcome, key recommendations were submitted to the Council of Europe.

ENNHRI has engaged in different stages of the review of Recommendation No. R(97)14 on the establishment of independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in its capacity as a permanent observer to the Steering Committee on Human Rights. The consultation served as a preparation for a submission that places attention on the needs of NHRIs and their potential use of the Recommendation in practice for greater implementation of human rights. ENNHRI participates as an observer to the drafting of the revised Recommendation.

The submission identifies key elements for inclusion in the revised version of the Recommendation:

  • An NHRI in compliance with the UN Paris Principles in all Council of Europe Member States

European NHRIs recommend that all Member States should not only have an NHRI in compliance with the UN Paris Principles, but that they should ensure an enabling environment for NHRIs to carry out their work in an independent and effective manner.

For example, NHRIs should be consulted on policy and legislation developments which might affect them.

  • Greater awareness of and cooperation with NHRIs by national authorities

NHRIs agree that the revised Recommendation needs to be used to enhance recognition and understanding of their unique role in relation to different state authorities. To strengthen their cooperation with national authorities, European NHRIs recommend that Member States put in place follow-up mechanisms, including for parliament and government, to address the implementation of NHRI recommendations.

NHRIs should be consulted on policy and legislation developments that concern human rights. Furthermore, advice should be sought from NHRIs on ensuring compliance with international human rights standards, judgements and recommendations.

  • Developing closer partnership between NHRIs and the Council of Europe

To develop closer partnership between NHRIs and the Council of Europe, European NHRIs recommend further development of participation rights for NHRIs and ENNHRI in the organisation and that NHRIs are regularly informed about relevant activities. Cooperation programmes with the Council of Europe should be further developed and Council of Europe mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders, including NHRIs, should be strengthened.

  • Implementation and evaluation of the revised CoE Recommendation

ENNHRI and its members express their commitment to disseminating and contributing to the implementation of the revised Recommendation once it is adopted by the Committee of Ministers. NHRIs agree that Member States should commit to evaluating the domestic implementation of the Recommendation on a regular basis, and should examine the implementation of the revised Recommendation within Committee of Ministers no later than three years.

The updated Recommendation could reinforce the support, recognition and cooperation of the Council of Europe and its Member States with NHRIs, helping to advance human rights protection and promotion in Europe. It is an opportunity to highlight the unique role of NHRIs and support their establishment and strengthening. NHRIs are encouraged to use the ENNHRI submission in advocacy with their state representatives to Council of Europe. The intergovernmental drafting process will start in Strasbourg in March.

If you have any questions about the submission, contact Katrien Meuwissen from the ENNHRI Secretariat.

» Download ENNHRI submission to Council of Europe on the review of Committee of Ministers Recommendation on NHRIs
» Learn about the Council of Europe Recommendation on the need to protect and promote civil society space, recognising the role of NHRIs
» Learn more about the recognition of NHRIs at the European level