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Supporting NHRIs to be advocates for change

Graphic: Phillip Wardle

The APF’s new Legal and Policy Manager has seen first-hand the impact that national human rights institutions can have to change people's lives.

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It was while he was working with people living in informal settlements around Manila, Philippines, that the APF's new Legal and Policy Manager saw the impact that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) can have to change lives.

"At the time I was assisting the Commission on Human Rights on a project to document the experiences of people living in urban poor communities, as well as those who had been forcibly resettled outside the city," Phillip Wardle said.

"I was able to see first hand the success that an NHRI could bring to an important advocacy and law reform initiative, in large part because the Commission was able to provide such a strong link between its civil society partners and government."

More recently, Phillip was a justice and rule of law specialist advisor at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which took him to a range of UN operations across Africa to help bolster support and protection for refugees and other vulnerable groups.

Phillip has also worked on human rights research projects with universities and other research centres in the Asia Pacific region, as well as with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

NHRIs can be such effective advocates because of the unique position they hold, where they are established by government but are independent of government.

Asia Pacific Forum Logo Phillip Wardle, APF Legal and Policy Manager

"Throughout my career, I have had regular engagement with NHRIs and have seen the value they bring to the process of legislative reform and, more broadly, advocacy on human rights issues," Phillip said.

"Their mandate gives them the authority to provide advice on laws and policies that can drive genuine changes that makes a real difference in people's lives."

It was the possibility of supporting NHRIs to be powerful actors for change that drew Phillip to his current role with the APF.

"The APF is a small, dynamic organisation and one of its great strengths is the strong relationships that exist with all its member institutions," he said.

"I am looking forward to assisting members and emerging NHRIs with legal and policy questions, as well as with their applications for accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

"I'm also excited about the possibilities to support NHRIs strengthen their internal capacity so they can be the most effective advocates possible, across all areas of their work and influence."

Date: 24 April 2019

Image credits

  1. Phillip Wardle - APF/James Iliffe