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General Assembly urges States to establish and strengthen NHRIs

Graphic: UN headquarters, New York

The resolution adopted by the General Assembly also recognises the invaluable contributions made by independent NHRIs within the UN system.

A resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly has called on all States to establish and strengthen independent national human rights institutions (NHRIs), including as a means to meet their commitments under Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Goal 16 seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

The establishment of an independent NHRI is a key indicator of a State's implementation of Goal 16.

Of the 193 UN Member States, 80 currently have NHRIs that meet the minimum standards for independence set out in the Paris Principles. A further 33 NHRIs partially comply with the Paris Principles.

The resolution recognises the invaluable contributions of Paris Principles-compliant NHRIs within the UN system and encourages all UN mechanisms and processes to further enhance the participation of NHRIs in their work.

Graphic: NHRI staff meet with security forces

Importantly, the resolution also states that NHRIs and their staff should not face reprisals for undertaking work in accordance with their mandate, including political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations.

States are requested to promptly and thoroughly investigate such cases of alleged reprisal against NHRIs and to bring perpetrators to justice.

This year's resolution also supports the objectives of the Marrakesh Declaration (adopted in 2018 at the 13th International Conference of NHRIs), which calls for increased protection of human rights defenders and greater space for civil society engagement on issues relating to peace, justice, democracy and human rights.

The resolution on national human rights institutions (A/C.3/74/L.44/Rev.1) was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2019.

Germany led the resolution at the Third Committee in November 2019, where it was co-sponsored by a record 91 States.

Speaking at the time, Germany said "the broad cross-regional co-sponsorship from States demonstrates the strong, international commitment to the value and importance of NHRIs".

Date: 6 January 2020

Image credits

  1. UN headquarters, New York - APF/James Iliffe
  2. NHRI staff meet with security forces - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal