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UN resolution urges greater participation for NHRIs

Graphic: UN building in New York

The resolution calls for NHRIs to be given the opportunity to contribute independently to the work of different bodies within the General Assembly.


A United Nations resolution has called for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to be given the opportunity to contribute independently to the work of different bodies within the General Assembly.

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

Ambassador Harold Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations said the resolution now shifts the discussion on the participation of NHRIs in the General Assembly from "if" to "how".

Adopted by consensus by the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the resolution was led by Germany and co-sponsored by 90 governments, including 14 from the Asia Pacific region.

"For the first time, the General Assembly actively encourages UN processes and mechanisms both to enhance the participation of NHRIs and to allow for their contribution," Ambassador Braun said.

"The resolution thereby recognises that the added-value of NHRIs in the international human-rights system extends beyond the Human Rights Council in Geneva."

The resolution identifies four New York-based UN mechanisms and processes in which greater NHRI participation would add value:

  • the Commission on the Status of Women
  • the Conference of State Parties on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, and
  • the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Graphic: Participant at the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

"By leaving it up to these individual entities to decide on how to better involve NHRIs, the resolution makes it clear that NHRI participation cannot follow a one-size-fits-all approach and needs to be context-specific," Ambassador Braun said.

Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, said that the resolution recognised the enormous value that independent NHRIs could bring to discussions on human rights issues, especially by providing credible and authoritative information.

"While more conversations will be needed in order to establish how NHRIs will participate in these mechanisms, this General Assembly resolution represents a significant step forward," he said.

"The APF has played – and will continue to play – a leading role in advancing NHRI participation rights in the United Nations."

The resolution also highlighted the important and constructive role of NHRIs working in cooperation with government to ensure respect for human rights at the national level.

However, it stressed that "national human rights institutions and their respective members and staff should not face any form of reprisal or intimidation, including political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations, as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates".

Date: 24 November 2015


Image credits

  1. UN building in New York - Ashitaka San, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1Xuk20p
  2. Participant at the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women - SustainUS, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1k86VoX