31 May 2023

New ENNHRI study examines the implementation of landmark Council of Europe Recommendation on NHRIs

The Council of Europe Recommendation on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) represents the European gold standard on NHRIs. Outlining what NHRIs need to thrive, its adoption two years ago marked a milestone. So, what has happened since then? A new ENNHRI baseline study, launched today at the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (CM), assesses the crucial question of its implementation so far. The baseline study sets out targeted actions to strengthen NHRIs, and so drive positive change for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The importance of the Recommendation

Adopted by the Committee of Ministers in March 2021, the Recommendation (CM 2021/1) affirms NHRIs as pillars for promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Its 17 Principles offer the blueprint for ensuring that NHRIs can operate as effective, pluralist and independent institutions. The Principles cover domestic safeguards and further participation of NHRIs at the Council of Europe. Moreover, the Recommendation includes and complements the global standards of the UN Paris Principles.

Painting a picture of its implementation

ENNHRI’s baseline study examines the Recommendation’s implementation across the Council of Europe’s Member States. Alongside cross-regional findings, it features country-specific analyses with good practices and recommendations for each Member State.

To ensure the study’s rigour and reliability, findings were gathered from three sources: the reports of NHRIs; recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of NHRIs; and information from Council of Europe independent monitoring bodies.

Key findings from across the Council of Europe

The cross-regional findings indicate both positive and challenging aspects concerning the Recommendation’s implementation. They also set out suggestions for how to enhance NHRIs’ already wide-ranging engagement at the Council of Europe.

In terms of what is going well:

  • There is an ever-growing family of NHRIs across the Council of Europe’s 46 Member States.
  • Authorities have overall good awareness of NHRIs, and provide them with adequate access to decision-makers.
  • NHRIs have strong mandates to contribute to justice systems.

Important areas with room for improvement are:

  • Implementing transparent, merit-based and pluralistic selection and appointment processes for NHRI leadership.
  • Ensuring adequate resources and allocating extra resources for additional mandates through independent budget lines.
  • Making sure there is effective, timely and reasoned follow-up of NHRI recommendations.

To advance support for and meaningful engagement of NHRIs at the Council of Europe, two key actions would be particularly beneficial:

  • Set up a comprehensive Council of Europe cooperation programme for NHRIs.
  • Guarantee continuous and dedicated Council of Europe Secretariat support to boost already broad NHRI engagement.

Seizing the moment for human rights, democracy and the rule of law

NHRIs and ENNHRI can play a huge role in helping realise the commitments of the Reykjavik Declaration, agreed by all Member States at the Council of Europe’s recent Fourth Summit. The implementation of the Recommendation is the foundation for strengthening NHRIs, and with it the effectiveness of the Council of Europe system, and the enjoyment of human rights, democracy and rule of law across its Member States.

Exploring the study and related materials

Discover the baseline study and its rich findings by visiting the interactive webpage. This features all country reports, as well as key cross-regional findings and findings per CM Principle.

Download the baseline overview and summary. Read the full text of the Council of Europe Recommendation on NHRIs.