Participants of the NHRI 2023 academy standing on the top of the staircase posing to the photo.
05 Jul 2023

NHRI Academy 2023: Representatives of 24 NHRIs take part in rule of law training 

The 10th edition of the NHRI Academy, co-organised by ENNHRI and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), took place from 19 to 23 June 2023 in Skopje, North Macedonia. The event gathered 24 human rights professionals from National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) across the OSCE region to enhance their capacities to promote and protect the rule of law. 

With adherence to the rule of law declining annually across Europe and the world, the importance of having strong, independent NHRIs to promote and protect it and human rights is clear. ENNHRI’s 2022 regional rule of law report showed worrying regional trends on the topic, including a lack of public trust in justice systems, the failure of state authorities to implement regional court judgements in a timely way; and a decline in media freedom with threats and attacks towards journalists. 

NHRIs also reported that civil society organisations and human rights defenders (HRDs) are operating in worsening conditions and continue to be targets of attacks and harassment, including by public authorities. Finally, NHRIs face challenges themselves, including a lack of state authority follow-up to their recommendations, lack of access to information and law-making, and insufficient resources to carry out their mandates.   

Participants agreed that in this climate of increasing erosion of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, NHRIs – themselves rule of law indicators – are key actors to help combat these trends. Over the course of five days, the Academy provided an open environment for sharing good practices among peers and other supporters and partners. Participants built their capacity on a variety of rule of law topics, including independence of the judiciary, fair trial rights, and strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).  

Several NHRIs presented examples of their work to strengthen rule of law. For instance, the Slovakian NHRI has created a rule of law tracker to enhance progress monitoring of certain rule of law areas in Slovakia. The Romanian ENNHRI member explained how they have been designated as the new Focal Point on the EU SLAPP Recommendation and set out their first steps and planned future actions in the role. Participants also created action plans to apply their learning within their NHRIs and committed to strengthening their cooperation to enhance the effectiveness of their work. 

The NHRI Academy differs from existing human rights trainings and short-term courses as it focuses exclusively on the unique role of NHRIs. Its long-term aim is to provide a standing resource for the continuing professional development of staff at NHRIs, and to foster the development of professional networks for NHRIs in the OSCE region. 

Read more on previous NHRI Academies.  

Discover more on ENNHRI’s work on the rule of law and democracy.