The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important area of work for ENNHRI and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights are tied together in a mutually reinforcing way. The 2030 Agenda explicitly references human rights throughout its text and the SDGs ‘seek to realize the human rights of all’. NHRIs can play a key role in the implementation and follow-up of the Agenda and are at the core of the SDG ‘web of accountability’. We facilitate NHRI collaboration in this area through our SDGs Working Group.

The Mérida Declaration, adopted by the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI), outlines how NHRIs can apply their unique mandate and functions to support the integrated realisation of human rights and sustainable development. NHRIs can contribute to the Agenda through:

  • Monitoring progress at the local, national, regional and international levels, including by building on existing human rights reporting and monitoring mechanisms
  • Assisting in the shaping of national indicators and sound data collection systems, including by providing advice and expertise on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Data
  • Promoting transparent and inclusive processes for participation and consultation in the development of national strategies to achieve the SDGs, including by reaching out to those who are furthest behind and collaborating with civil society and other actors
  • Supporting capacity-building and sharing of experiences on a Human Rights-Based Approach to the SDGs

SDG 16: NHRIs as Indicator of Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

The ‘existence of independent NHRIs in compliance with the Paris Principles’ is a global indicator for the achievement of SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. This reaffirms that sustainable development cannot be achieved without a strong and independent NHRI.

The existence of an independent NHRI in compliance with the UN Paris Principles (A-status) is the global indicator for SDG target 16.a. In 2019, the Danish Institute for Human Rights and GANHRI reported on the progress of the implementation of this target, and concluded that if the pace set from 2015-2018 is maintained, it is not until 2067 that all UN member states will have an A-status NHRI. ENNHRI provides support on the establishment and accreditation of NHRIs in compliance with the UN Paris Principles.

European SDG Processes

While GANHRI facilitates NHRI engagement at the global level, including at the annual UN High-Level Political Forum, ENNHRI facilitates NHRI engagement with European SDG processes. We contribute to the intergovernmental Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region, calling for better integration of binding international human rights within the SDGs and showcasing the relevance of NHRIs.

Representatives of the participating NHRIs NHRIs advocate for human rights-based approach to 2030 Agenda at UNECE Regional Forum on SDGs

We also contribute to SDG-related processes and activities at the level of the EU, as is reflected, for example, in the 2019 Fundamental Rights report of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency which includes a focus chapter on the SDGs with specific attention given to NHRIs.

SDG Working Group

Our work in this area is facilitated through our SDG Working Group, which brings together around 20 European NHRIs. The Working Group acts as hub of experts in this area and a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and challenges that NHRIs face in working on the SDGs.

The Working Group’s activities aim to enhance NHRIs’ capacity on a variety of topics, including how to include the SDGs in NHRIs’ daily human rights work and how NHRIs can engage with governments in the context of the SDG voluntary national reviews. The Working Group also closely liaises with GANHRI’s Working Group on the SDGs.


Cécile Riou-Batista – National Consultative Commission of Human Rights (France)

Current members

NHRIs of: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium (Combat Poverty, Insecurity and Social Exclusion Service), Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Kosovo*, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Spain

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence