Ribbons of the Ukrainian flag tied around a railing
14 Dec 2023

Supporting the Ukrainian NHRI to promote and protect human rights in Ukraine during war

A new report has been published to support the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. It follows an intensive capacity assessment in 2023 conducted with the NHRI by ENNHRI, UNDP and UN Human Rights. Its findings and recommendations will underpin further capacity development and structured follow-up by the Ukrainian NHRI, providing a pathway to further support the institution to promote and protect human rights amidst war.

The NHRI requested the assessment in late 2022 after the start of the Russian full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine. Since then, the institution has been working in the context of an armed conflict. It has faced many challenges, including a change of Commissioner, high staff turnover, new areas of work, and difficulties accessing various regions of the country.

The capacity assessment report was released at the “Freedom or Fear” Conference in Kyiv on 7 December 2023. Presenting it, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, stated that:

“This is a way for my institution to show compliance with human rights standards and norms even under war circumstances; to underpin new, creative and most effective practices that we have and identify challenges for our work; and demonstrate that we are eager to work more effectively to protect and promote the human rights of our people.”

Conducting the capacity assessment

The capacity assessment of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights was a thorough process. It involved analysing relevant documents and reports collected by the capacity assessment team, alongside an in-country assessment via extensive interviews with NHRI staff, key stakeholders and partners. In addition, 99 per cent of the institution’s staff completed a self-assessment questionnaire on key capacity issues and provided quantitative capacity ratings and qualitative comments.

The capacity assessment team involved representatives of ENNHRI, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). They worked according to the framework of the Global Principles for Assessing the Capacity of NHRIs developed by the Global Tripartite Partnership to Support NHRIs.

ENNHRI’s representation on the capacity assessment team a peer NHRI representative, Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, formed an integral part of the work on the ground. She said:

“It was an honour to participate in the capacity assessment and an opportunity to learn and develop my own institution. ENNHRI’s support is invaluable. I have been privileged to witness its impact in Ukraine, but also its ongoing support for Northern Ireland. I left Ukraine inspired by Commissioner Lubinets and his team’s resilience and adherence to human rights and the rule of law despite the challenges.”

The benefits of the capacity assessment and its findings

A capacity assessment helps NHRIs become more effective in their work. As a process of self-assessment that engages every member and staff of the NHRI, as well as national stakeholders, it looks into the future, promotes internal learning and accountability, and creates structured spaces for forward-looking reflection and planning.

The capacity assessment outlines detailed findings with recommendations for the NHRI. ENNHRI and its partners will support the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights to implement these. For instance, by advising on legislative amendments, advocating for the independence and strong mandate of the institution, and facilitating further contacts of the Ukrainian NHRI with international partners.

The capacity assessment was funded through the Tripartite Partnership (GANHRI-UNDP-OHCHR) and contributions from ENNHRI’s members.