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NHRIs explained: New APF fact sheet series

Graphic: Nepal NHRI Chairperson talks to the media

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Some 25 years ago, the foundations for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) were adopted by the international community.

In December 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted the Paris Principles, which set out the minimum standards that NHRIs must meet to be considered independent and effective.

Since that time, the number of NHRIs operating around the globe has grown from around 20 to well over 100 at the start of 2019.

"Despite this sustained growth, there is still confusion about what a national human rights institution is, what it does and the unique position it holds between government and civil society," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

National human rights institutions stand up for those in need of protection and hold their governments to account for their human rights obligations.

They drive genuine change: by removing discrimination in laws and policies, by improving the practices of law enforcement officials, by making sure vulnerable groups have a say in decisions that affect them and by challenging leading community conversations around human rights.

The APF has published a series of fact sheets that provide an easy-to-read overview of the role and functions of NHRIs.

The 11 fact sheets – most accompanied by video resources – include an introduction to NHRIs, the Paris Principles and the importance of NHRI independence in driving genuine change.

The fact sheets also cover the key responsibilities and functions of NHRIs, including:

The fact sheet series also looks at the need for NHRIs to prioritise groups at risk of human rights violations, with a particular focus on the rights of women and girls.

Graphic: Community consultation on women's rights

"With human rights coming under increasing pressure in countries across the region and around the world, it's more important than ever that NHRIs are strong, independent and effective," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

"These fact sheets explain the work that NHRIs can and should be doing to make human rights a reality for all people."

The fact sheets draw on the APF's Manual on National Human Rights Institutions (updated October 2018).

Image credits

  1. Nepal NHRI Chairperson talks to the media - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal
  2. Community consultation on women's rights - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa