How can NHRIs address economic and social rights in (post-)conflict situations?
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play a crucial role in promoting and protecting economic and social rights (ESR) in times of (post-)conflict. ESR violations, such as displacement, lack of access to decent work and quality education and ongoing discrimination, can be both causes and consequences of conflict. These violations may also leave groups of people in protracted poverty and deepen existing tensions. In such contexts, NHRIs can help safeguard ESR standards at the local level through their broad human rights mandate and functions. They also play an important role in early warning and conflict prevention.
What can NHRIs do in this context?
Through monitoring and reporting, NHRIs can collect independent and reliable data on ESR violations. By using quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess state compliance with human rights standards, tensions can be identified, helping to prevent conflicts. For example, NHRIs can monitor:
- Events like public demonstrations, elections or specific incidents
- Places like detention centres or border crossing points
- Legislation, policies and budgets and their implementation towards a progressive realisation of ESR, such as in relation to reparations and social security
This can be done effectively by engaging with local communities and those affected by conflict, as well as local actors, including civil society, the private sector, the media, research centres and academia.
Croatian NHRI: On-site monitoring visits in regions
The findings of monitoring activities can show the local human rights situation and be reported to national authorities, as well as regional and international bodies and independent mechanisms (e.g. EU, Council of Europe and UN). For example, NHRIs can report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, adopting a human rights-based approach. Particular attention can be given to SDG 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies, in which NHRIs in compliance with the UN Paris Principles are an indicator.
Serbian NHRI: Cooperation with a local NGO
In (post-)conflict contexts, NHRIs can assist individuals through complaints handling. They can also use complaints to identify worrying trends and address them with authorities, helping to prevent large-scale ESR violations. Due to their independence and cooperation with a wide range of civil society and local actors, NHRIs can form a broad picture of the human rights situation, helping to address the underreporting of abuses that occurs in (post-)conflict contexts. The data collected can be analysed and disaggregated by groups most affected and by human rights violations to identify systemic issues.
Bosnia and Herzegovina NHRI: ESR complaints handling
NHRIs raise awareness of ESR and promote a human rights culture, including by advocating for the rights of those most affected by conflict. By making visible the situation of groups facing the most difficulties in accessing ESR (such as ethnic minorities, children, women, elderly people, persons with disabilities and internally displaced persons), NHRIs can contribute to mitigating tensions and preventing a recurrence of conflict. Also, NHRIs can advocate for ESR justiciability through the enforcement of ESR standards in courts, contributing towards the restoration of trust and peace.
Northern Ireland NHRI: Highlighting gaps in ESR implementation
- Our work on human rights in (post-)conflict
- Our work on economic and social rights
- Interactive page: Economic & Social Rights – Practices of NHRIs
- Download the leaflet version of this page