27 Apr 2023

Outcomes of the March 2023 session of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation announced

In March 2023, the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) assessed three ENNHRI members on their compliance with the UN Paris Principles. ENNHRI congratulates in particular the Belgian Federal Institute for Human Rights (FIRM-IFDH) for its first-time accreditation as a B-status NHRI.   

From 20-24 March 2023, three ENNHRI members – from Poland, Northern Ireland and Belgium –  were assessed on their compliance with the UN Paris Principles by the GANHRI SCA.  

Reaccreditation of Polish NHRI

The Polish NHRI (the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights) was reaccredited with A-status. The SCA encouraged the NHRI to continue its efforts for the implementation of its recommendations. Among other remarks, the SCA recommended the formalisation of a clear, transparent and participatory process of selection and appointment of the Commissioner, and steps towards importance of ensuring pluralism in the NHRI’s staff composition. Additionally, the SCA recommended that the Polish NHRI advocates for the necessary funding to carry out its mandate.

Accreditation of FIRM-IFDH

The Belgian Federal Institute for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights  (FIRM-IFDH) received its first-time accreditation as an NHRI, gaining a B-status, only two years after it became operational. The SCA welcomed the establishment of the FIRM-IFDH and the efforts it has already made to promote and protect human rights in the country. However, the SCA noted that FIRM-IFDH’s mandate is at present limited to matters under federal competence and for which no other sectoral body is responsible. While FIRM-IFDH works de facto on a wide variety of human rights issues throughout the country, both at its own initiative and in cooperation with other bodies, the SCA recommended that the FIRM-IFDH advocates for amendments that would expand its mandate beyond the residual-federal level. 

Other recommendations to the Belgian FIRM-IFDH relate to its annual report; ensuring pluralism and diversity in its composition and work; the formalisation of a selection and appointment process that promotes broad consultation or participation of civil society; and the need to ensure sufficient funding to fulfil its mandate. 

As a result, there are currently two institutions accredited as B-status NHRIs in Belgium: the FIRM-IFDH and UNIA (the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities). All ENNHRI members in Belgium work collaboratively to promote and protect human rights in the country. 

Reaccreditation of Northern Ireland NHRI

The reaccreditation of the Northern Ireland NHRI (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission – NIHRC) was deferred for a last time to the second session of 2023. The SCA reiterated its recommendations regarding the NHRI’s adequate funding and financial autonomy, including through open engagement between the NHRI and relevant authorities to ensure all budgetary issues are resolved quickly, appropriately, and in a sustainable manner. Additionally, the SCA recommended that the NHRI takes steps to ensure pluralism and diversity within its staff.

ENNHRI provided tailored support to its members before and during the session and stands ready to assist them and national authorities in their follow-up to the SCA recommendations. 

Updates regarding the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation

Finally, the SCA decided to initiate a special review of theCommissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, following the request received from the GANHRI Chairperson and acknowledging concerns received from a third party. The special review is scheduled for the SCA’s next session in October 2023. The Russian Commissioner for Human Rights does not currently enjoy an international accreditation status, as a result of the decision of the GANHRI Bureau to suspend its A-status accreditation.

In parallel, on 11 April 2023, the ENNHRI General Assembly resolved to exclude the Russian Commissioner from ENNHRI membership as it took the position that it had not complied with its membership obligations under the ENNHRI Statutes.

For the full details on the outcomes and recommendations from the SCA’s March 2023 session, read the meeting report.

Next steps

In the next SCA session, five ENNHRI members will be assessed on their compliance with the UN Paris Principles. They are the NHRIs in Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, and Northern Ireland. ENNHRI stands ready to support them during the accreditation process.

Read more on what that support encompasses, as well as ENNHRI’s Practical Guide on the Accreditation of NHRIs.