11 Dec 2020

How NHRIs can create a culture of rights: inspiration from the NHRI Academy

The effective promotion of human rights is one of the core functions of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). By raising awareness and organising educational activities, they help building a culture of rights that can have positive impacts on individuals. At this year’s online NHRI Academy, participants from 20 NHRIs across Europe strengthened their skills around strategies and narratives for communicating human rights, with a particular focus on migration. They also developed action plans to address their current challenges around promoting human rights, reflecting their active engagement with the event.

NHRIs’ promotional activities can include a range of initiatives, such as human rights education, public campaigns, workshops and courses, targeting the general public as well as specific groups. At the NHRI Academy, co-organised by ENNHRI and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human rights, and in partnership with the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, participants exchanged their practices – including on issues beyond migration – reflecting the varied nature of their promotional mandate.

For example, the Spanish NHRI (Office of the Ombudsman of Spain), in collaboration with UNCHR, hosted an event on the development of a framework for the reception and integration of refugees in Spain. The meeting aimed to strengthen cooperation with administrations at the central, regional and municipal levels and helped to advance practical proposals to better protect the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum.

The Georgian NHRI (Office of Public Defender) developed two online courses – open to the public – on the prevention of sexual harassment and on gender equality. With the support of UN Women, the NHRI adapted existing UN courses to the Georgian context by translating them, creating new videos and developing new scenarios for case studies.

Looking ahead, 16 NHRIs have developed action plans centred on promoting the rights of migrants as a follow-up to the NHRI Academy. These plans show the important role that NHRIs play in creating successful human rights promotion programmes which, being integrally linked to their protection functions, help raise awareness and advance human rights in Europe. Through a hope-based communication approach, these plans aim to reinforce feelings of solidarity with migrants and change the narrative around them.

For instance, the Norwegian NHRI will create a short video message targeting the public, showing real stories of foreign care-takers and their contributions to society during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Irish NHRI (Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission) is developing a national awareness campaign on combatting racism, featuring videos with people of different ethnic backgrounds who work to tackle and speak out against racism. The Latvian NHRI (Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia) will work closely with foreign workers to create engaging messages on the importance of integration processes.

Recordings, materials and other resources from this year’s NHRI Academy will be made available soon on the ENNHRI website.

» Learn more about the NHRI Academy
» Learn more about ENNHRI’s work on communicating human rights