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Understanding national human rights institutions

Graphic: Commissioners and staff in Nepal take part in a march on Human Rights Day

The APF has launched a new video series to document the unique role that NHRIs play in building fair and inclusive societies.


The APF has launched a new video series to describe and document the unique role that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) play to help build fair and just societies.

"NHRIs have a unique set of functions and powers that allow them to monitor the human rights situation in their countries, undertake investigations of human rights violations and hold government to account," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

"Their independence from government, set out in law and underpinned by international standards, is a defining characteristic of NHRIs and is central to their ability to foster genuine, long-term change," he said.

The video resource features interviews with representatives from a broad range of APF member institutions, as well as international experts on human rights and NHRIs.

It is designed to complement the APF's Manual on National Human Rights Institutions and our foundation course for staff who are new to NHRIs.


I think the important point to understand about a national human rights institution is that they are independent of government and they become, in a sense, the conscience of a country.
Professor Gillian Triggs
President, Australian Human Rights Commission


The video resource looks specifically at the following topics:

A short animation introduces each key topic.

The video resource also features many practical case studies of NHRIs using their mandates to address serious and systemic violations or to build community understanding of human rights.

"The video captures a small slice of the important work undertaken by APF members in a wide range of settings, from stable democracies through to countries grappling with conflict and its aftermath," said Mr Fitzpatrick.

Date: 20 May 2016


National human rights institutions, with their monitoring function, with their promotion function, can get State attention to redress and remedy violations.
Roberta Clarke
UN Women, Asia and the Pacific


Image credits

  1. Commissioners and staff in Nepal take part in a march on Human Rights Day - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal