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APF releases new NHRI Leadership Guide

Graphic: Dr Deepika Udagama, former HRCSL Chairperson, addresses APF 24

The APF has published a new guide to support leaders of National Human Rights Institutions in their roles.

Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

Due to their unique nature, leading National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) is a significant task. New leaders may face challenges understanding their new roles and the complex work of NHRIs. Even experienced leaders regularly encounter new issues and obstacles. 

NHRI Leadership: An Introductory Guide, a new resource published by the APF, aims to assist leaders in meeting these challenges. It describes the roles and responsibilities of the various categories of NHRI leaders, including those who head the institution, those appointed to statutory positions, senior executive officers (SEOs) and other senior staff. 

The guide covers the structure of NHRIs; the legal criteria that NHRI leaders must adhere to; the requirements of the Paris Principles; and the five essential elements for successful NHRI leadership. It also provides a comprehensive list of resources for leaders to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of their roles. 

“Strong, courageous and effective leadership is vital for NHRIs to achieve their mandate to protect and promote human rights,” said APF Principal Adviser on Capacity Assessments and International Engagement, Pip Dargan.

At the APF we aim to support NHRI leaders in their roles to lead necessary and sometimes sensitive conversations, lead an effective organisation and to make an impact using their institution’s legal mandate.

Asia Pacific Forum Logo Pip Dargan, APF Principal Adviser

Providing services to NHRI leaders is one of APF’s core functions. The APF assists leaders to build NHRIs that are deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, that are fully compliant with the Paris Principles, and that demonstrate initiative and independence.

APF programmes of support for NHRI leadership include: 

  • The APF Leadership Solidarity Outreach programme commenced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and involves regular calls to support APF member leaders as they navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic and other issues. It provides opportunities for discussion of NHRI work and priorities, providing a ‘sounding board’ for advice and information about APF services. 
  • The Introduction to APF programme provides newly appointed leaders of APF members with a briefing and exchange on the role and services of APF and is also available for leaders of NHRIs wishing to join the APF. The programme has given NHRI leaders greater understanding of the APF and its services, including its programme of support with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) accreditation process. 
  • The APF Virtual Dialogue Series brings together the leaders of APF members on a regular basis to share their work in the promotion and protection of human rights. Each dialogue is a 90-minute virtual event co-hosted by APF and an NHRI, with the topic nominated by a chairperson of an NHRI. Past topics have included the monitoring of detention centres during the pandemic, advancing vulnerable groups during the pandemic, and employment discrimination and pay equity.
  • The APF High-Level Dialogue programme is available for newly appointed NHRI leaders. These are comprehensive and confidential high-level discussions conducted over several days with NHRI experts and peers. They can cover a range of topics, including thematic, strategic and operational issues, as well as discussions on the governance responsibilities of the leaders. Find out more here.
  • The APF Capacity Assessment programme is a joint project of APF, the United Nations Development Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which aims to build strong and effective NHRIs. It supports APF members and prospective members to identify the capacities they have and those they need to develop to fulfil their mandate to promote and protect rights at the national level. Find out more here
  • The Capacity Assessment Review programme is an APF initiative to capture the experience and insights of NHRI leaders and staff members several years after a capacity assessment as well as to review the progress made on recommendations that were adopted by the NHRI in the capacity assessment. The review is facilitated by the NHRI and the APF secretariat. Find out more here

Date: 28 February 2023

Image credits

  1. Dr Deepika Udagama, former HRCSL Chairperson, addresses APF 24 - APF/ National Human Rights Commission of Korea