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Preventing conflict, rebuilding peace: the role of NHRIs

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“In times of tensions and rising social crises, NHRIs can have an enormous impact,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says.

Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions LogoGlobal Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions

Tensions are increasing in many parts of the world, and a number of deadly conflicts are resulting in large numbers of victims and displacement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told delegates at the opening of annual conference of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).

The 2017 annual conference, held in Geneva from 8-9 March 2017, focused on the role of NHRIs in relation to early warning, conflict prevention and the re-establishment of peaceful societies.

UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that "in times of tensions and rising social crises, NHRIs can have an enormous impact – above all, in preventing conflicts from escalating and breaking societies apart".

"It is essential that your institutions continue to carry out their mandates with independence, integrity, and impartiality as tensions arise – including during conflict," Zeid said.

"Collection of data, receiving complaints and investigation of allegations are essential to restore justice, to ensure effective remedies and to combat impunity."

The UN High Commissioner praised the "principled work done by so many NHRIs in these situations" and encouraged NHRIs "to pay particular attention to the situation of marginalized groups, who may be made more vulnerable in times of crisis".


Graphic: "Chito" Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines


Representatives from NHRIs across all four regions shared their experiences in relation to:

  • Election-related and political violence
  • Factors contributing to a climate of violence
  • Early warning mechanisms and human rights defenders
  • Protecting and preserving the independence of NHRIs.

The Chairpersons of the NHRIs of Afghanistan, the Philippines and Qatar were among the speakers who addressed the global forum.

The discussions centred the critical role for NHRIs to investigate, monitor and report on human rights violations, and to hold state authorities to account, during times of tension and conflict.

They also highlighted the need for NHRIs to build strong relationships with others – including civil society groups, international agencies and other NHRIs – in order to develop practical strategies to protect the human rights of individuals and communities at risk.

The 2017 GANHRI annual conference also featured a "knowledge fair", which encouraged NHRIs to good practice examples of their work on business and human rights and migration and refugees.

Date: 17 March 2017


Image credits

  1. APF/Thuy Doan-Smith
  2. "Chito" Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines - APF/Thuy Doan-Smith