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Strengthening Myanmar’s national human rights institution

Graphic: Discussion with the Commission and stakeholders

Commissioners and staff of Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission have shared their ideas to bolster the impact of the organisation.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights LogoOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
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The leadership team and staff of Myanmar's National Human Rights Commission have shared their ideas on how to bolster the impact of the organisation in a country grappling with grave human rights challenges.

More than 80 people took part in individual interviews and small group discussions as part of a capacity assessment program, led by the APF in partnership with UNDP and OHCHR

Consultations were also held with representatives from NGOs, government ministries, parliamentarians, the Supreme Court and faith groups to hear their varied perspectives.

"Our discussions highlighted that the Commission has been active in monitoring places of detention and advocating for improved conditions, as well as conducting human rights awareness raising and education programs in all regions and states," said APF NHRI Expert Rosslyn Noonan, who led the two-week capacity assessment from 5-16 November 2018.

"The recent establishment of two branch offices is also beginning to make the Commission more accessible to communities across Myanmar," she said.

Ms Noonan noted that the Commission had a strong foundation in law, staff members who were highly committed to human rights work and a positive relationship with the Parliament.

"It is also vital that national human rights institutions engage consistently and constructively with civil society," she said.

"This broad engagement – both with government and civil society – is a requirement of the Paris Principles and recognises that partnerships are essential to drive genuine changes that benefit all people, especially those communities facing human rights violations."

Graphic: Rosslyn Noonan with Commission representatives

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission was established in 2012, at the start of the country's ongoing transition to democracy.

"A key role for the Commission – one that is common to all new NHRIs – is to promote community understanding and discussion of human rights, as well as build public confidence in its role as an independent human rights watchdog," Ms Noonan said.

Following each capacity assessment, a report is prepared that proposes strategies to strengthen the NHRI as a whole, develop the capacities of staff individually and collectively, and make the internal processes of the NHRI more effective and more efficient.

Capacity assessments have now been conducted with 20 APF member institutions, as well as with the newly established National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan (January 2018) and the Office of the Ombudsman in Uzbekistan (September 2018)

In the past 12 months, the NHRIs of Malaysia and the Philippines have participated in their second capacity assessment.

Date: 26 November 2018

Image credits

  1. Discussion with the Commission and stakeholders - APF/ Jerefe Bacang
  2. Rosslyn Noonan with Commission representatives - APF/ Jerefe Bacang