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​UN resolution encourages greater role for NHRIs

Graphic: Entrance to the United Nations, Geneva

The Human Rights Council has encouraged different bodies across the UN system to further enhance opportunities for NHRIs to contribute to their work.


The United Nations Human Rights Council has encouraged different bodies across the UN system to further enhance opportunities for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to contribute to their work.

A Council resolution, adopted on 28 September 2016, praised the "valuable participation and contribution" of NHRIs to the international human rights system.

It also commended the steps taken by a number of New York-based UN mechanisms to create opportunities for the independent participation of NHRIs, including the Commission on the Status of Women, the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The resolution also invited the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to consider what steps could be taken to enhance the participation of NHRIs in their work.

The Human Rights Council resolution was led by Australia and enjoyed the support of more than 80 States from all regions.

It builds on the momentum generated by the General Assembly resolution on NHRIs in December 2015 which called for NHRIs to be given the opportunity to contribute independently to the work of different mechanisms and processes within the United Nations.

The Human Rights Council resolution also:

  • Reaffirmed the importance of establishing and strengthening independent, pluralistic NHRIs in accordance with the Paris Principles and the important role that NHRIs play in protecting and promoting fundamental freedoms
  • Encouraged the development of a common approach by UN treaty bodies to engagement between NHRIs and the treaty bodies
  • Stressed that NHRIs should not face any reprisals or intimidation for undertaking activities in accordance with their mandates and called upon States to promptly and thoroughly investigate any cases of alleged reprisal or intimidation, and bring perpetrators to justice
  • Welcomed the Mérida Declaration on the role of national human rights institutions in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by NHRIs in October 2015.

Graphic: NHRIs were active participants at the CSW meeting in March 2016


Introducing the resolution to the Council, Australia's Ambassador John Quinn said "the benefits of enabling national human rights institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles in the work of the United Nations in Geneva and New York are seen in the work NHRIs do each and every day on the ground in order to protect and promote human rights".

Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, said the resolution provided a powerful endorsement of the valuable work that NHRIs undertake in their countries and the valuable contribution they make at the international level.

While NHRIs have had independent participation rights at the Human Rights Council in Geneva for many years, participation in the mechanisms of the General Assembly in New York has been limited and ad hoc.

"Over the coming year, we will continue to work with Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and other partners to lobby for formal NHRI participation rights in the work of UN bodies in New York."

Date: 7 October 2016


Image credits

  1. Entrance to the United Nations, Geneva - APF/James Iliffe
  2. NHRIs were active participants at the CSW meeting in March 2016 - APF/Joel Sheakoski